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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.

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.
  • 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?
  • 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?
  • 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?
  • 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?

Revision Information

  • Degenerative joint disease of the hip. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated November 17, 2014. Accessed December 1, 2014.

  • Degenerative joint disease of the knee. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated November 25, 2014. Accessed December 1, 2014.

  • Tips for talking to your doctor. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/healthcare-management/working-with-your-doctor/tips-for-talking-to-your-doctor.html. Updated May 2014. Accessed December 1, 2014.