You’ve been experiencing joint pain, perhaps for years, and you’ve had enough. You’re ready to find out more about its causes—and what you can do about it.
When you visit a joint specialist for the first time, your doctor will perform a physical examination. He will move the joint that hurts to determine its range of motion, or how much it can move. He will check for swelling and tender points. He also will ask you about your general health and any existing conditions you may have, including heart disease, kidney problems, breathing problems, arthritis, osteoporosis, anemia, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and other ailments that might impact the treatment recommendations he makes.
X-rays will be taken to determine if there is a loss of space in the affected joint. Blood and other special imaging tests such as an MRI may be needed to diagnose the cause of your pain when it is not apparent from the x-ray images.
During your first office visit, be prepared to describe any and all pain you’re currently experiencing, even if you’re not sure whether it is connected to the specific orthopaedic condition (for example, knee pain) that prompted you to make the appointment. Make sure you are able to answer the following questions, as well as the degree to which the pain is interfering with daily functioning such as getting in and out of the car and lying down to sleep:
- Where does it hurt?
- When does it hurt?
- When did it first begin to hurt?
- How long has it hurt?
- Have you seen any swelling?
- What daily tasks are more difficult now?
- Have you ever hurt the joint in an accident or overused it on the job, during sports activities, or in a hobby?
- Have you had any previous injuries that may be playing a role in your current orthopaedic condition?
- Has anyone in your family had similar problems?
The treatment plan the physician develops will be directed to reducing inflammation, reducing pain and stiffness, and improving function. Early diagnosis and conservative treatment tailored to an individual’s needs is crucial to slowing or preventing damage to joints. In cases where surgery is warranted, he’ll discuss your options and answer any questions you and your family have.
At the conclusion of the diagnosis phase of treatment, you’ll know whether you have arthritis and, if so, what type of arthritis you have and what you can do about it. The final decision about which treatment options to pursue rests with you.
Please prepare for your initial appointment by bringing the following:
- Health Insurance Card/Information
- Referral(s) and pre-authorization(s), if required by your health insurance
- Contact information of your primary care physician (if applicable) including name, address and phone number
- If needed, a friend or family member to take notes/help with questions
- A list of all medications you are taking (dosage and frequency)
- A list of your questions /concerns
- A copy of any diagnostic imaging studies (i.e. X-ray, CT, MRI); please bring the actual CD or films
- Copies of records from related treatment
- If you require documents to be sent to another physician, please complete our Medical Release Form