The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide
When You Visit Your Doctor
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Questions to Discuss with Your Doctor:

  • How long have you had painful joints?
  • Which joints are involved?
  • Does the pain wake you at night?
  • Does it occur at rest?
  • Do you have swelling or deformities in any joints?
  • What activities can you no longer do because of the arthritis?
  • How long ago did you stop doing them?
  • How far can you walk?
  • Have your knees ever "given way"?
  • Do you have difficulty opening jars or grasping objects?
  • Do you have any other conditions, such as heart or lung disease, that also limit your ability to function?
  • What have you done to treat your osteoarthritis?
  • Have you seen a physical therapist?
  • Do you use a cane (for osteoarthritis of the knee or hip)?
  • What medications do you take (over-the-counter and prescription) to treat the pain?
  • How effective are they?
  • Do you ever stop taking your medications to find out if they make a difference?
  • Are you ever free of pain?
  • Do you know the side effects of each medication?
  • Do you know the indications for joint replacement?

Your Doctor Might Examine the Following Body Structures or Functions:

  • Joint examination
  • Muscles
  • Gait

Your Doctor Might Order the Following Lab Tests or Studies:

  • X-rays of the involved joints (see p. 137)
  • CT scans of the involved joints (see p. 141)
  • MRI scans of the involved joints (see p. 143)

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