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Choose a trustworthy orthopedic surgeon to help manage joint pain

Dr. David Mack Founding Partner and Medical Director Advanced Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine

Finding the right doctor can be tough and there are many things to consider — would you be more comfortable with a male or female? Is the medical office conveniently located? Is the physician highly regarded in the medical community? When it comes to a specialist, it can be even trickier to know who will be the right fit for you. If you’re suffering from joint pain and ready to seek help from an orthopedic surgeon, here is some advice to consider.


Do research your doctor’s qualifications

When it comes to a specialist, the most important thing to verify is whether he or she is board certified. After you have confirmed this qualification, you may also consider looking at the doctor’s experience level, specialties and training. A doctor who specializes in your particular problem or pain point could be beneficial to you.

Do ask for references from people that you trust

Ask in your circles, be it your primary care doctor, friends, family and/or neighbors if they have seen a physician whom they trust and like. It is important to not only find a good physician, but also to feel comfortable with the physician; hearing about a personal experience from someone you trust may help ensure this. Word of mouth is actually a common way of finding a doctor.

Do research the office environment

Once you have a physician in mind, or a few, check out where the doctor works; you want to make sure his or her practice is professional. Convenience is one thing, but make sure your doctor is affiliated with an organization that you trust and/or recognize.

Do come prepared

It’s important to bring copies of your medical reports and any test results. Ask your other medical professionals for results of previous records, including copies of X-rays. Many patients assume that their medical history will be provided by their other doctors automatically, but unfortunately this is not the case. It can be a long process for a medical office to request records and extremely beneficial for the patient to bring records to the initial visit.

Do ask questions

When you have had an initial visit, make sure you understand what the doctor is telling you and why. If you don’t understand, ask the doctor to clarify—even if the question seems stupid to you. Asking questions and openly communicating with the doctor will help you build a rapport and it’s important to have someone that you feel listens and understands you, if you will continue your care with the professional.


Do not be afraid to speak up when you don’t understand

Some patients have a list of questions, but don’t always feel comfortable asking them so they let it go. It is important to realize the doctor is there to help you, and this includes answering questions about the care you are receiving. Also, when the doctor is speaking, don’t hesitate to speak up and ask for clarification.

Do not think you should wait hours and hours to see a doctor

Many doctors run a bit behind, but that doesn’t mean you should routinely be left waiting for hours. If you find that this is the case, you should find another doctor who is able to better meet your scheduling needs.

Do not second guess your gut feeling

Sometimes a doctor can be qualified and highly recommended, but you just may not click for whatever reason. If you find this is the case, don’t second guess yourself and feel like you have to see them just because the doctor was referred to you. You should feel comfortable with your doctor.

Do not let insurance issues be the final determining factor

Doctors can work with you to see you out of your network, sometimes for the same cost that you would have paid in network. In some clinics they work with patients to figure out a plan for them if their insurance doesn’t cover the treatment. Many physicians do this, so don’t think your choices are limited to who is listed under your insurance plan.

Do not be afraid to work with multiple physicians

Some patients are afraid to get a second opinion because they are worried about offending the doctor, but you shouldn’t be concerned about that. This is your health and your care and there is no harm in getting another doctor to weigh in.

Jumping cartoon

There are many medical professionals out there and it can be extremely daunting to just go through a list of names. The best thing to do is ask around for referrals, check credentials, make an initial visit and see if you click with the physician. If you don’t, that’s ok. Don’t feel that you will offend the doctor if you decide that you want to keep searching. However, if you continue to see them, don’t be afraid to ask questions and work with the doctor to find the best solutions for you. Remember your doctor is your partner in managing your health care.

More expert advice about Joint Pain

Photo Credits: CB106274 by Flickr: Spirit-Fire; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas -

Dr. David MackFounding Partner and Medical Director

Dr. Mack has been practicing orthopedic surgery in Houston, Texas since 1995. He specializes in all aspects of reconstructive surgery of the knee and shoulder, and has a special interest in the treatment of current and former athletes and sports...

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