Osteoarthritis (OA) is a condition that damages or destroys the cartilage that pads joints and eases the movement of bones that make up joints. This can be a very painful condition that commonly strikes the knee joints.

There are treatments that can ease the discomfort caused by OA. Knowing how to talk to your doctor about your symptoms can help you find the best treatment.

You should prepare to talk with your doctor about your pain before your appointment. Making a list of things you want to talk about during the visit can help keep you on track.

You’ll want to ask questions about your condition including:

  • Could something else be causing this pain?
  • What types of tests may I have to undergo?
  • What treatments might ease this pain?

Other topics include whether there are alternatives to mainstream tests and treatments and where you can find more information about OA.

Consider keeping notes about your pain for at least a few days prior to your visit. Things you should record include:

  • what time of day your knee hurts
  • when the pain first occurred and whether there is any history of an injury
  • under what circumstances the pain starts, what makes it better, and what makes it worse
  • what the pain feels like during each episode
  • where on or around your knee does it seems to hurt
  • how long the discomfort lasts
  • what, if anything, you do to treat it yourself, and how effective those treatments are

You’ll also want to let your doctor know about the severity of your pain. When doctors question someone about the severity of their pain, they often use a 10-point scale. Milder pain is lower on the scale, and as pain worsens the number on the scale increases.

Bringing a trusted friend or relative with you to the visit can also be helpful. Beyond the emotional value of having someone with you, this person can also remind you of points to raise or questions you may have forgotten. They can also help you remember important information provided by the doctor like medication names, dosages, and follow-up information.

Your time with your doctor may be limited, so preparing for your appointment ahead of time can help you get the most out of your visit.

Answer your doctor’s questions as accurately as possible, even if you feel uncomfortable with the subject. Anything you tell your doctor can help with your treatment.

Ask every question you need to. And once you ask a question, make sure you understand the answer. Ask for clarification if you don’t understand. And take notes if you need to.

The causes of OA aren’t fully understood, and there is no cure. But treatments can help you deal with the condition. Some treatments may include lifestyle changes, medications, or surgery.

Being prepared and talking frankly with your doctor can help determine the best treatment for you.