Diagnosis of knee osteoarthritis

Now I am sure some of you, with knee osteoarthritis, have seen the doctor and already have a diagnosis, while some of you haven’t. This blog post for the latter category of people……and also the former category of people.

To have a proper diagnosis of knee osteoarthritis, you need to see the doctor, carry out some tests and get the necessary treatment. This blog post is not a self-diagnosis post.

The stage of your knee osteoarthritis determines the kind of doctor that would manage your knee osteoarthritis

There are different types of specialists responsible for the diagnosis and management of arthritis

Types of Specialists

Family Doctor or General practitioner or Primary Care Doctor

These are the doctors that you will first see when you get to a hospital – health centres, clinics, general hospitals and teaching hospitals. Depending on your symptoms, they can decide to carry out tests such as X-Ray and then decide if you need to see a specialist or not. For some patients, their primary care doctor can adequately diagnose and treat their arthritis. Like I said earlier, this all depends on the stage your knee osteoarthritis.

Furthermore, when the cause of disease is not as clear, the opinion of a specialist may be sought to determine the appropriate course of treatment. Other cases when it may be appropriate to see a specialist include:

  • Very severe or disabling arthritis
  • Other body parts besides the joints, affected by Arthritis
  • Presence of Arthritis and other serious medical condition
  • Arthritis symptoms worsen despite treatment
  • A patient’s arthritis requires treatments that the primary care physician has less experience with or would otherwise prefer it handled by a specialist.

Reference

Arthitis Health

Rheumatologists

These are specialist doctors that handle the non-surgical treatment of arthritis and are often consulted to further diagnose arthritis symptoms and manage a patient’s arthritis treatment plan.

Patients might need a Rheumatologist if they have:

  • Pain involving many joints
  • New joint pain not associated with any injury
  • Pain of the joint that is related to morning stiffness, fever, fatigue, rash or chest pain
  • Joint pain that is followed by a tick bite
  • Joint pain that is associated with back pain
  • Psoriasis and Joint Pain
  • Muscular pain with or without any other symptoms
  • New headaches or muscle aches and are over the age of 50
  • Back pain with or without pain in the legs
  • Unexplained, ongoing symptoms such as fever, sweats or weight loss

Reference

UMass Memorial Medical Center 

Arthritis Health

Orthopaedic doctor/surgeon

These are specialists trained in the surgical treatment of degenerative diseases of the joints including arthritis. Surgery is usually considered only after conservative treatments have failed.

Patients might need an Orthopaedic physician if they have:

  • Joint or musculoskeletal pain that began after an injury
  • Gradually progressive hip or knee pain that is worse with weight bearing
  • Joint pain that is severe and interfering with function
  • Moderate or advanced arthritis of the knee or hip
  • Previous unsuccessful treatment for joint pain
  • Been told by their doctor they might need a joint replacement

Reference

UMass Memorial Medical Center 

Arthritis Health

Physiotherapist

They work closely with patients to develop individualized exercise programs that focus on strengthening their muscles and increasing flexibility around the their damaged joints to increase stability and range of motion. They also utilize other treatments such as massage, heat and ice, or ultrasound for arthritis. Together these actions work to reduce pain and help improve the function of the joint.

Reference

Arthritis health

Pharmacist

They provide drugs and alternative medicines such as nutritional supplements that would help improve your quality of life. They also make sure that you are using the drugs as at when due and any complaints or side-effect gotten from the drugs can be reported to your pharmacist. They make sure that you are taking the right drugs at the right time and at the right dosage. They also explain the benefit and risk of the medications you are using for your arthritis.

At a time when it can take months to get an appointment with a doctor, those needing advice can usually find their pharmacists conveniently nearby and available. As a first point of contact, pharmacists can provide information about dosage, interactions, and side effects of prescription and over-the-counter medications, and give advice on other, non-medication, therapies. 

It is important to take the time to establish a good relationship with your local pharmacist, tell them about your arthritis, and provide an up-to-date list of your medications, so they can help ensure you are taking the right ones correctly.

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