While you might initially bring your signs and symptoms to the attention of your family doctor, he or she may refer you to a doctor specializing in infectious diseases or to an orthopedic surgeon.
Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, be sure to ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your diet.
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
For osteomyelitis, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- Are there other possible causes for my symptoms?
- What kinds of tests do I need? Do these tests require any special preparation?
- What treatments are available, and which do you recommend?
- Will surgery be necessary?
- What types of side effects can I expect from treatment?
- I have other health conditions. How can I best manage these conditions together?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend visiting?
What to expect from your doctor
During the physical exam, your doctor may feel the area around the affected bone for any tenderness, swelling or warmth. If you have a foot ulcer, your doctor may use a dull probe to determine the proximity of the underlying bone.
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, such as:
Nov. 20, 2012
- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
- Do you have a fever or chills?
- Does anything make your symptoms better or worse?
- Have you had any cuts, scrapes or other injuries lately?
- Have you had any surgery recently?
- Have you ever had a joint replaced? Or have you had surgical correction of a broken bone?
- Do you have diabetes? Do you have any foot ulcers?
- Chihara S, et al. Osteomyelitis. Disease-a-Month. 2010;56:6.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed Oct. 1, 2012.
- Humphries RL, et al. Current Diagnosis & Treatment Emergency Medicine. 7th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=55756409. Accessed Oct. 1, 2012.
- Lalani T. Overview of osteomyelitis in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Sept. 21, 2012.
- Ray CG, et al. Sherris Medical Microbiology. 5th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2010. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=6950257. Accessed Oct. 1, 2012.
- Sia IG, et al. Osteomyelitis. Best Practice & Research Clinical Rheumatology. 2006; 20:1065.
- Infections. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00197. Accessed Oct. 5, 2012.