Talking to Your Doctor About Osteoarthritis
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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. 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 out 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
- Do my symptoms suggest that I have osteoarthritis?
- Are there any other joint diseases that this could represent?
- Do you feel that I need any other diagnostic tests?
About Treatment Options
- What lifestyle changes should I institute?
- What comfort measures (such as heat, cold, brace, etc.) 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
- Should I lose weight?
- What is a healthy target weight that I should work to maintain?
- Can you recommend a registered dietitian who can help me learn about healthful eating?
- Should I be taking vitamin C and vitamin D supplements?
- What kinds of exercise should I do to increase my muscle strength?
- Are there exercises or athletic activities that will overly stress my joints, and which I should therefore avoid?
- Could my occupation be contributing to my joint disease and symptoms?
- What is the usual progression of osteoarthritis?
- How can I slow or halt the progression of osteoarthritis?
- Do I have to give up or change any of my activities now or in the future?
Arthritis Foundation website. Available at: http://www.arthritis.org/ .
Conn’s Current Therapy . 54th ed. W.B. Saunders Company; 2002.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/ .
Manek NJ, Lane NE. Osteoarthritis: current concepts in diagnosis and management. American Family Physician . 2000;51(6). Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/20000315/1795.html.
Last reviewed September 2009 by ]]>Jill D. Landis, MD]]>
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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