Osteoarthritis (OA) is a condition that damages or destroys the cartilage that pads the joints and eases the movement of the bones that make up the joint. This can be a very painful condition that commonly strikes the knee joints.

There are treatments that can alleviate the discomfort caused by OA. Knowing how to talk to your doctor about what you’re experiencing can go a long way towards helping you find the proper treatment.

Before the Visit

You should prepare to talk with your doctor about your pain well before reaching their office. Making a list of things you want to talk about during the visit can help keep you on track.

Your list should include whether something else could be causing your pain, what types of tests you may have to undergo, and what treatments might ease your pain. Other topics include whether there are alternatives to the mainstream tests and treatments and where you can find more information.

Consider keeping notes about your pain for at least a few days prior to your visit. Things you should record include:

  • what time of day your knee hurts
  • under what circumstances the pain starts
  • what the pain feels like during each episode
  • where on or around your knee it seems to hurt each time
  • how long the discomfort lasts
  • what, if anything, do you do to treat it yourself, and how effective are those treatments
  • how severe the pain is

Something to keep in mind: Doctors often use a 10-point scale when they question a patient about the severity of their pain. Milder pain is lower on the scale, and as pain worsens the number on the scale increases.

Bringing a trusted friend or relative with you to the visit can help in a lot of ways. Beyond the emotional value of having a loved one with you, this person can also remind you of points to raise or ask questions you may have forgotten. They can also help you remember important information provided by the doctor like medication names, dosage, and follow-up information.

During the Visit

Your time with your doctor may be limited, so preparing these things ahead of time can help you get the most out of your visit.

When the time comes for the actual visit, it’s going to be all about questions: yours and your doctor’s.

Answer your doctor’s questions as accurately as possible, even if you feel uncomfortable with the subject. Anything you tell your doctor can help with your treatment.

Ask every question you need to, and don’t feel that you’re wasting your doctor’s time.

Once you ask a question, make sure you get a clear answer and that you understand fully what that answer means. Ask for clarification if you don’t understand. Take notes if you need to. This isn’t a time to be shy.

The causes of OA aren’t fully understood, and there is no cure. But treatments can help you deal with the condition. Some of them can be as simple as a change in lifestyle, while others include medications or even surgery.

Being prepared and talking frankly with your doctor can help determine the best regimen for you.