During the physical exam, your doctor may feel around your joint to pinpoint your pain. Sometimes your doctor can feel a bone spur.
Your doctor may order X-rays or other imaging tests to view your joints and bones.
If your bone spurs cause pain, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve, others). Bone spurs that limit your range of motion or press on nerves may require surgical removal.
Preparing for your appointment
You'll probably first see your family doctor. He or she may refer you to a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of joint disorders (rheumatologist).
Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.
What you can do
- List your symptoms and how long you've had them.
- Write down key medical information, including other conditions you have, all medications and supplements you take, and family history of bone or joint disease.
- Note recent injuries that affected a joint.
- 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 is examining you for joint problems. If other questions occur to you, don't hesitate to ask.
- What's the most likely cause of my signs and symptoms?
- Are there other possible causes?
- What tests do I need?
- What treatment approach do you recommend, if any?
- I have other health problems. How can I manage them together?
- How much do you expect my symptoms will improve with treatment?
- If you're recommending medications, are there possible side effects?
- Is surgery an option in my case? Why or why not?
- What self-care measures can I take to help manage symptoms?
- How often will you see me to monitor my progress?
- Should I see a specialist?
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 are your symptoms?
- When did you first notice these symptoms?
- How severe is your pain?
- Are you having trouble moving the affected joint or joints?
- Are your symptoms affecting your ability to complete daily tasks?
- If you've tried at-home treatments so far, what, if anything, has helped?
- What is your typical exercise routine?
Feb. 27, 2015
- Kalunian KC. Clinical manifestations of osteoarthritis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 8, 2015.
- Firestein GS, et al. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2013. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 8, 2015.
- Questions and answers about spinal stenosis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Spinal_Stenosis. Accessed Jan. 8, 2015.
- Arthritis: What it is. Arthritis Foundation. http://www.arthritistoday.org/about-arthritis/types-of-arthritis/osteoarthritis/what-you-need-to-know/osteoarthritis-is-2.php. Accessed Jan. 8, 2015.
- Osteoarthritis. American College of Rheumatology. http://www.rheumatology.org/Practice/Clinical/Patients/Diseases_And_Conditions/Osteoarthritis/. Accessed Jan. 8, 2015.