How to make the most of your orthopedic appointment

Seeing an orthopedic specialist can be a bit different than having an appointment with your primary care provider. Most people seek out an orthopedic provider when they have injured a bone, muscle, or joint. Injuries can be consider acute when they just happened a few days prior, or chronic where they have been going on for months or years. There are a few things that can help make your appointment go smoothly and to keep the visit on track. 

First and foremost, one body part at a time. Acute injuries typically mean that something immediate happened and more often than not just involve one body part. However, there are some patients who have longstanding chronic issues and want to get them all addressed at once. This can make it very difficult to stay on task and is not always feasible to have enough time to address every issue during your visit. You may be asked to make a separate appointment for another injury depending on your history. Pick the body part that is the most bothersome and start there. 

Second, know your history. It is very helpful for your provider to have a complete history regarding your injury. There are many things that can be important in making a diagnosis. Some of these include knowing how and when the injury started, other treatments have you done (including physical therapy, chiropractic care, injections, etc.), if you have seen another provider or have gone to an urgent care, and if have you had any specialized imaging done such as a CT scan or an MRI. Your provider will ask many questions to get to the root cause of your injury. But having things like previous medical or surgical records, MRI imaging and reports, and a list of what other treatments you have tried can help save time and avoid any unnecessary additional imaging. If you had an MRI or CT scan done recently, you should bring a copy of the images and report with you to the visit. Any imaging over a year old may require updating. Your provider will also want to know your full medical history. Bring a list of all the medications you are taking as well as any previous surgeries you have undergone. While you may not feel your past medical history is important for orthopedic injuries, there are many things that can be contraindicated for medications that may be prescribed. Your medical history is important as well if you require surgery for your injured body part.

Third, be prepared to get X-rays! Almost all orthopedic offices require X-rays of the injured body part, even if you know there has not been a fracture. Please see our previous blog post on X-rays to learn how important they are in diagnosing orthopedic injuries. 

Fourth, know your goals. Are you looking for pain relief? Do you want to take the most conservative route? Have you dealt with this injury long enough that you are ready to discuss surgical options? Do you want to get back to pickle ball, or running, or do you have a triathlon coming up in a couple months? Your provider will want to know your goals so they can work with you to reach those goals. Some injuries will inevitably be indicated for surgical repair or reconstruction, but sometimes that is not your only option. Your orthopedic provider will do their best to get you where you want to be. Being prepared for your visit can help move things along and help get you back to your winning lifestyle! 

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Nicole D'Apice PA-C

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