Talk to Your Doctor About Osteoarthritis Pain

Osteoarthritis pain

When most people talk about arthritis, the medical condition that they are referring to is technically known as osteoarthritis. Arthritis is a condition that builds up over time wherein the cartilage and soft tissue that connects the bones to one another at the joints becomes inflamed, degraded and damaged. Due to the stresses and strains of everyday life on the legs, knee osteoarthritis is particularly common and can lead to severe discomfort over the long term.

Today, healthcare providers have designed a number of osteoarthritis treatments that can substantially reduce the amount of pain that sufferers have to endure. When patients are better educated about their options, they can better work with their doctors to find an osteoarthritis treatment to suit their needs.

Before You See Your Doctor

Your doctor is definitely going to ask you about the amount of discomfort you are experiencing so be prepared to discuss this in some detail. Many people find it helpful to write down a list of topics and details to discuss beforehand in order to make the most of their time with the doctor.

One thing your list should include is your history of pain and what discomfort your osteoarthritis causes in your life. Be sure to also include on your list any questions you have about what kind of testing is involved and what your options are to manage you pain. Many patients take the proactive step of asking about alternatives to any treatments or tests that their doctor might propose to ensure that they are exploring all avenues available.

It’s a really good idea to keep detailed notes about the pain your osteoarthritis causes you in the days leading up to your doctor visit. Be sure to write down:

  • Exactly what time and for how long your knee(s) are experiencing discomfort
  • What, if anything, prompted the onset of pain
  • Exactly what the discomfort feels like during each incident
  • When the pain or discomfort began to fade away or cease altogether
  • Any treatments you are performing to reduce the discomfort you’re feeling and how effective they are
  • The intensity of your discomfort ranging from one to 10

The scale that most doctors learn in their training starts with a one to indicate very mild discomfort and tops out at 10, meaning a very excruciating pain that you can scarcely stand to bear.

Another good idea is to contact a trusted person to come with you when you visit your doctor. Your trusted person can help sustain you emotionally as well as keep track of any questions or issues you want to raise during your visit. Your trusted person can also help you remember the information given to you by your doctor.

During Your Doctor’s Appointment

Doctors are quite busy, so do your best to make the most of the limited time available you have with him or her. Use your list to keep yourself on track and make sure that all of your important questions and concerns are being addressed.

Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor direct and pointed questions about your knee osteoarthritis, even if you aren’t usually comfortable with discussing important topics in this manner. Remember, your doctor is there to help you and give you answers, so anything you say or ask is actually going to help your doctor give you better treatment.

Never allow yourself to give into the feeling that you’re bothering your doctor or wasting his or her time. It is your doctor’s responsibility to address all of the concerns and questions that you have about your knee osteoarthritis.

After you’ve asked a question, make sure you and your trusted person fully understand the answer. Don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions if there is anything that you didn’t comprehend. Ask your trusted person to write down notes if the information is complicated or detailed. Be sure to write down all specific information like medications, dates, dosages and the future proposed course of your treatment.

It is important to understand that the exact nature of what causes osteoarthritis isn’t yet fully understood by medical science. Right now there is no “cure”, so most current treatments are designed to help manage pain and reduce complications to your lifestyle.

The best thing you can do is to be prepared ahead of time to have an honest and forthright conversation with your doctor to make sure that you get the best treatment possible for your individual needs and condition.


In this instance, an athlete was originally diagnosed with minor quadriceps muscle strain and was treated for four weeks, with unsatisfactory results. When he came to our clinic, the muscle was not healing, and the patients’ muscle tissue had already begun to atrophy.

Upon examination using MSUS, we discovered that he had a full muscle thickness tear that had been overlooked by his previous provider. To mitigate damage and promote healing, surgery should have been performed immediately after the injury occurred. Because of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment, the patient now has permanent damage that cannot be corrected.

The most important advantage of Ultrasound over MRI imaging is its ability to zero in on the symptomatic region and obtain imaging, with active participation and feedback from the patient. Using dynamic MSUS, we can see what happens when patients contract their muscles, something that cannot be done with MRI. From a diagnostic perspective, this interaction is invaluable.

Dynamic ultrasonography examination demonstrating
the full thickness tear and already occurring muscle atrophy
due to misdiagnosis and not referring the patient
to proper diagnostic workup

Demonstration of how very small muscle defect is made and revealed
to be a complete tear with muscle contraction
under diagnostic sonography (not possible with MRI)


Complete tear of rectus femoris
with large hematoma (blood)


Separation of muscle ends due to tear elicited
on dynamic sonography examination

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