Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Make an appointment with your doctor if you have hand- or wrist-related pain and self-care measures — such as avoiding activities that trigger your pain — aren't helping. After an initial exam, your doctor may refer you to an orthopedist, rheumatologist, hand therapist or occupational therapist.

Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and know what to expect from your doctor.

What you can do

  • Write down your key medical information, including other conditions with which you've been diagnosed and all medications and supplements you're taking.
  • Note hobbies and activities that may strain your hand or wrist, such as knitting, gardening, playing an instrument, participating in racket sports or performing repetitive workplace activities.
  • Note any recent injuries that may have damaged your hand or wrist.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor. Creating your list of questions in advance can help you make the most of your time with your doctor.

Below are some basic questions to ask a doctor who evaluates you for wrist- or hand-related symptoms. If any additional questions occur to you during your visit, don't hesitate to ask.

  • What is the most likely cause of my symptoms?
  • Are there any other possible causes?
  • Do I need any tests to confirm the diagnosis?
  • What treatment approach do you recommend?
  • I have other health problems. How can I best manage these conditions together?
  • Will I need surgery?
  • How long will I need to avoid the activities that caused my condition?
  • What else can I do on my own to improve my condition?
  • When do I need to make a follow-up appointment?

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to talk about in-depth. Your doctor may ask:

  • What symptoms are you having and when did you first notice them?
  • Have your symptoms been getting worse or staying the same?
  • Do any particular activities seem to trigger your symptoms?
  • Do you participate in any hobbies or sports that involve repetitive hand or wrist movements?
  • What tasks do you perform at work?
  • Have you recently had any injuries that may have caused hand or wrist damage?
  • Does it help to avoid the activities that trigger your symptoms?
  • Have you tried any at-home treatments, such as over-the-counter pain relievers? Has anything helped?

What you can do in the meantime

In the time leading up to your appointment, avoid activities that cause or worsen your pain. To relieve your pain, try using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and applying ice to the affected area.

Aug. 01, 2012