Obtaining a Quality Diagnosis
Every orthopaedic evaluation is different, but there are many commonly used tests in making a diagnosis
The medical management of arthritis and joint degeneration may be handled by a family doctor, an internist, or a rheumatologist. However, when medical management is not effective, an orthopaedic surgeon should be consulted to determine if surgery is an option. In some cases, the orthopaedic surgeon may be the first physician to see a patient and make the diagnosis of arthritis.
The Orthopaedic Evaluation
While every orthopaedic evaluation is different, there are many commonly used tests that an orthopaedic surgeon may consider in evaluating a patient’s condition. In general, the orthopaedic evaluation usually consists of:
- A thorough medical history
- A physical examination
- Additional tests, as needed
A medical history is taken to assist the orthopaedic surgeon in evaluating your overall health and the possible causes of your joint pain.
What the physician sees during the physical examination -- which includes standing posture, gait analysis (watching how you walk), sitting down, and lying down -- helps confirm (or rule out) the possible diagnosis. The physical exam will also enable the orthopaedic surgeon to evaluate other important aspects of your hips and legs, including:
- Size and length
- Range of motion
- Skin condition
In order to assist the orthopaedic surgeon in making a diagnosis, it may be helpful to write down your answers to the following questions before the appointment:
- Where and when do I have pain?
- How long have I had this pain?
- Do I have any redness or swelling around my joints?
- What daily tasks are hard to do now?
- Did I ever hurt the joint or overuse it?
- Does anyone in my family have similar problems?