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Talking to Your Doctor About Osteoarthritis

Each person has a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors and/or experience with osteoarthritis (OA). By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.

General Tips for Gathering Information

Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:

  • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
  • Don't be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.

Specific Questions to Ask Your Doctor

About OA

  • Do my symptoms suggest that I have OA?
  • Could these symptoms be caused by any other joint diseases?
  • What kind of tests, if any, will I need?

About Treatment Options

  • When can I expect to feel improvement from the treatment?
  • What comfort measures (such as heat or cold) might be helpful?
  • Should I consider other treatments, such as corticosteroid injections or hyaluronic acid injections?
  • Should I consider any surgical procedures?
  • What is likely to happen without treatment?
  • What medications can I take to reduce pain and improve my ability to function normally?
    • What are the benefits/side effects of these medications?
    • Will these medications interact with other medications, over-the-counter products, or dietary or herbal supplements that I am already taking?
  • Are there any alternative or complementary therapies that will help me?

About Lifestyle Changes

  • Do I need to lose weight?
  • What is a healthy target weight that I should work to maintain?
  • What kinds of exercise should I do to increase my muscle strength?
  • Are there exercises that may help me feel better?
  • Are there exercises or athletic activities that I should avoid because they overly stress my joints?
  • Could my occupation be contributing to my joint disease and symptoms?
  • How much rest should I get?
  • Are there any assistive devices that might help me continue to function independently?
  • Do I need to take supplements or vitamins?

About Outlook

  • What is the usual progression of OA?
  • How can I slow or halt the progression of OA?
  • Do I have to give up or change any of my activities now or in the future?
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References:

Osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated July 22, 2016. Accessed October 4, 2016.
Osteoarthritis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated August 2013. Accessed December 1, 2014.
Osteoarthritis (OA) of the hip. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated July 22, 2016. Accessed October 4, 2016.
Tips for talking to your doctor. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated May 2014. Accessed May 11, 2016.
Last reviewed May 2016 by Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM
Last Updated: 5/20/2015

 

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