Physical Examinations: What is the Doctor Looking for?

A physical examination together with a medical history is used by your doctor to assist in the diagnosis process. Physical examinations are great for the fact that they can be interpreted immediately.

Orthopedic surgeons use a variety of diagnostic tests to help identify the specific nature of a musculoskeletal injury or condition, and while every orthopedic evaluation is different, there are many commonly used tests that an orthopedic surgeon may consider in evaluating a patient’s condition.

In general, the orthopedic evaluation usually consists of:

  • A thorough medical history
  • A physical examination
  • X-rays
  • Additional tests, as needed

A medical history is taken to assist the orthopedic surgeon to evaluate a patient’s overall health and possible causes of their joint pain. In addition, it will help the doctor determine to what degree your joint pain is interfering with your ability to perform everyday activities.

What the physician sees during the physical examination – which includes examination of posture during standing, sitting, and lying down, and gait analysis (watching how you walk) – helps to confirm (or to rule out) a possible diagnosis. The physical exam will also enable the orthopedic specialist to evaluate other important aspects of your joints, including:

• Rjoint exam picange of motion
• Swelling
• Reflexes
• Skin condition

After the physical examination, X-ray evaluation is usually the next step in making a diagnosis. X-rays help show how much joint damage or deformity exists. An abnormal X-ray may reveal:

  • Narrowing of the joint space
  • Cysts in the bone
  • Spurs on the edge of the bone
  • Areas of bony thickening called sclerosis
  • Deformity or incorrect alignment

If you are experiencing pain or other symptoms related to the musculoskeletal system, contact Dr. Wesley Johnson for a consultation. He will work with you to find the best solution for your unique case.

Read more on this topic online at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/magazine/issues/spring09/articles/spring09pg10-11.html

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