Talking to Your Doctor About Osteoarthritis

Each person’s health is different. Talk with your doctor about your risk factors and past history with osteoarthritis (OA). By talking openly and often with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.

General Tips for Gathering Information

Here are some tips to help you talk to your doctor:

  • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have a second person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write your questions before your visit, so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get from your doctor. Make sure you understand what you hear. Ask more questions if you need to.
  • Don't be afraid to ask your questions. Ask where you can find out more. You have a right to know.

Specific Questions to Ask Your Doctor

About OA

  • Do my symptoms point to OA?
  • Could they be caused by any other joint problem?
  • What kind of tests, if any, will I need?

About Treatment Options

  • When can I expect to feel better from the treatment?
  • What comfort measures (such as heat or cold) might be helpful?
  • Should I consider other treatments, such as injections?
  • Should I consider surgery?
  • What is likely to happen without treatment?
  • What medicines can I take to reduce pain and help me function?
    • What are the benefits/side effects of these medicines?
    • Will these medicines cause problems with other medicines, over-the-counter products, or diet or herbal supplements that I take?
  • Are there any alternative therapies that will help me?

About Lifestyle Changes

  • Do I need to lose weight?
  • What is a healthy weight that I should work to maintain?
  • What exercise should I do for muscle strength?
  • Are there exercises that may help me feel better?
  • Are there exercises or sports that I shouldn't do?
  • Could my job be making my joint disease and symptoms worse?
  • How much rest should I get?
  • Are there any devices that might help me function without help?
  • Do I need to take supplements or vitamins?

About Outlook

  • What is the usual progression of OA?
  • How can I slow or halt it?
  • Do I have to give up or change any the things that I like to do now or in the future?

Osteoarthritis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: Updated May 30, 2016. Accessed May 30, 2018.

Osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated March 15, 2018. Accessed May 30, 2018.

Osteoarthritis (OA) of the hip. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated March 15, 2018. Accessed May 30, 2018.

Tips for talking to your doctor. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: Updated January 19, 2018. Accessed March 31, 2018.

Last reviewed May 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM  Last Updated: 5/31/2018