Preparing for Your Orthopedic Appointment

Whether you are injured in an accident, have chronic pain, or a have a physical condition that requires treatment, the odds are very high that you will be referred to an orthopedist at some point in your life.

Your first visit with an orthopedist will be because either you or your doctor have determined that something is not right. For example, after years of playing tennis, you might start to notice a nagging sensation in your elbow. Or you discover that your tween has a slight curvature of her spine. Perhaps you were in a car accident and your knee keeps popping. Because orthopedists treat injuries and conditions to the musculoskeletal system, they are rarely used for preventive care. If you are going to see an orthopedist, either you or your primary doctor have determined that you need some fixing.

If this is your first visit to an orthopedist, what can you expect? Here is how you can prepare for your orthopedic appointment.

Arrive Prepared

Like with any other initial appointment with a medical professional, you will need to bring a photo ID, your medical insurance card and referral if you were referred by another physician. Expect to fill out some paperwork on your first visit, so come at least 20 minutes early (Note: many physician’s offices will either email you the documentation or you can download it off their Web site or patient portal). Further, many practices offer patient education sites with helpful blogs, factsheets, and articles that provide you some background so you can ask the doctor questions or get clarification. It doesn’t hurt to peruse these sites for background on the practice and staff, their treatment philosophies, and general medical information and guidance.

Bring Medical Documentation

If they say a picture is worth a thousand words, then an MRI, X-Ray, or CT scan is worth a million. Your orthopedist will look at your film or file to get a visual of what exactly is going on – something that could never be conveyed in words alone. Many practices may download your file online, or will upload your records from a CD-Rom. If that is the case, be sure to bring that CD with you; if you need to share any files with your orthopedist, make sure you have a release in place with the doctor who referred you or the imaging center. And remember those forms you either filled out at the doctor’s office or on line? You may need to reflect back on some medical history so be prepared to discuss that too. And don’t forget to let the doc know if you have any allergies to latex, certain kinds of metal, etc.

Bring a List of your Meds

Your orthopedist is going to want to know what you are taking, and in what doses. This could not only impact the medicine he prescribes, but also, the efficacy of the ones you are already on. Don’t forget to list any natural or homeopathic meds such as Turmeric or Saint John’s Wort, as they may too interact with prescription medications. Do you have prescription orthotics or medical devices such as prosthetics? Bring them too! That way your orthopedist can get your complete medical picture.

Bring a Buddy

Should you have a minor procedure, or even a cortisone shot, you may not feel like driving home. Certainly, if you come home in a cast, you may not be able to grasp the wheel, let along drive! When you visit your orthopedist, consider bringing a family member or friend. The same is true if you have reason to believe you may need someone to take notes, ask questions, or interpret for you. Maybe treat your companion to ice cream to encourage them to stand ready for the follow-up appointment!

Physical Therapy Reports

Oftentimes you will have seen a physical therapist before you see the orthopedist, especially if you have been treated by your primary care doctor before you were referred. If that is the case, be sure to either bring your PT reports, or authorize to have them sent to your orthopedist before your first appointment.

The caring and experienced staff at OrthoUnited is ready to help you get the treatment you need to get back on track. From full-body MRIs to surgery to physical therapy, OrthoUnited is your partner when it comes to you and your family’s orthopedic health. To request an appointment, call (844) 469-2663 or go online using our appointment request form.