Primary Care Physician
If you suspect that you have osteoarthritis (OA), or if you are experiencing any of the symptoms, you should make an appointment with your regular doctor. Because it is a common condition, your regular doctor should be able to diagnose osteoarthritis. He or she will also be able to lead the way in managing the disease and any related symptoms.
A radiologist is a doctor who specializes in the branch of medicine that uses imaging technologies such as X-ray, CT scans, and MRIs to diagnose and treat diseases. If your primary doctor believes you may have osteoarthritis, he or she may send you to a radiologist to confirm the diagnosis and/or determine the extent of the OA via X-ray or MRI.
Your regular doctor may refer you to a rheumatologist, a doctor who specializes in the treatment of osteoarthritis and other inflammatory conditions of the joints, muscles, and bones. To become a rheumatologist, a person must complete his or her medical degree, three years in residency, and then a final two to three years training in a rheumatology fellowship.
If your doctor or specialist determines that surgery is needed as part of your osteoarthritis treatment, he or she will refer you to an orthopedic surgeon. Orthopedic surgeons specialize in surgery connected to conditions of the musculoskeletal system. An orthopedic surgeon will have completed a medical degree and five to seven additional years of training in orthopedic surgery.