Talking to Your Doctor About Osteoarthritis

You have your own health history. Talk with your doctor about your risk factors and background with OA. By talking openly and often with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.

Tips for Getting Information

Here are some tips that will make it easier to talk to your doctor:

  • Bring someone with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask. They may also be able to give more details.
  • Write down your questions so do you do not forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get and make sure you understand what you are hearing.
  • Ask for help if you need it. Do not be afraid to ask questions or ask where you can find more information. You have a right to know.

Specific Questions to Ask Your Doctor

About OA

  • Do my symptoms point to OA?
  • Could they be caused by any other joint problem?
  • What kind of tests, if any, will I need?

About Treatment Options

  • When can I expect to feel better from the treatment?
  • What comfort measures (such as heat or cold) might be helpful?
  • Should I think about other treatments, such as injections?
  • Should I consider surgery?
  • What is likely to happen without treatment?
  • What medicines can I take to ease pain and help me function?
    • What are their benefits/side effects?
    • Will these medicines cause problems with other medicines, over the counter products, or dietary or herbal supplements that I take?
  • Are there any alternative therapies that will help me?

About Lifestyle Changes

  • Do I need to lose weight?
  • What is a healthy weight that I should work to maintain?
  • What exercise should I do for muscle strength?
  • Are there exercises that may help me feel better?
  • Are there exercises or sports that I should not do?
  • Could my job be making my joint disease and symptoms worse?
  • How much rest should I get?
  • Are there any devices that might help me function without help?
  • Do I need to take supplements or vitamins?

About Outlook

  • What is the usual progression of OA?
  • How can I slow or halt it?
  • Will I need to give up or change any of the things that I like to do?


Osteoarthritis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: Accessed August 24, 2021.
Osteoarthritis (OA) of the hip. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed August 24, 2021.
Osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed August 24, 2021.
Tips for talking to your doctor. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at:
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Updated January 19, 2018. Accessed March 31, 2018.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Laura Lei-Rivera, PT, DPT
Last Updated: 8/24/2021

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