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What to Expect During Your First Orthopaedic Visit

What to Expect During Your First Orthopaedic Visit

While every orthopaedic evaluation is different, there are many commonly used tests that an orthopaedic specialist may consider in evaluating a patient’s condition. In general, the orthopaedic evaluation usually consists of:

  • A thorough examination of your medical history
  • A physical examination
  • X-rays
  • Additional tests, as needed

    Your medical history will be taken to assist the orthopaedic specialist in evaluating your overall health, your level of joint pain, and its possible causes. In addition, the specialist will assess to what degree your joint pain is interfering with your ability to perform everyday activities, like standing, walking, sitting down, and/or lying down.

    What the orthopaedic specialist sees during the physical examination helps confirm (or rule out) possible diagnoses. For instance, if your pain is in your hip or knee, a gait analysis (watching how you walk) is very important. The physical exam will also enable the orthopaedic specialist to evaluate other important aspects of your joints, including:

  • Range of motion
  • Swelling
  • Reflexes
  • Skin condition

    After the physical examination, an X-ray evaluation is usually the next step in making the diagnosis. X-rays help show how much joint damage or deformity exists. An abnormal X-ray may reveal:

  • Narrowing of the joint space
  • Cysts in the bone
  • Spurs on the edge of the bone
  • Areas of bony thickening called sclerosis
  • Deformity or incorrect alignment
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