As we get older, especially for those of us who are over 55, joint pain can have a significant effect on your life. From getting up and down stairs to serious mobility issues affecting your job or career, living with joint pain is no picnic!
We all tend to think that living with pain is the tough part, but finding a qualified doctor or medical clinic that knows what they are doing can actually be the toughest part. So where do you start?
Is Your Insurance Company The Best Referral Option?
Sometimes, but it all depends on the type of insurance coverage you have and what relationships they have with doctor’s offices and other medical facilities. Keep in mind that insurance companies are very conservative in their coverage, so the doctors you will be referred to probably won’t have cutting-edge treatment.
With an HMO, your primary doctor will refer you to a so-called specialist in an office that is in the network. These clinics tend to have an eclectic collection of medical doctors specializing in everything from internal medicine to dermatology. But is that referral the best doctor to be sent to for your joint pain?
A PPO lets you choose your doctor from their network. This can be a much better alternative for finding the right doctor, but again how do you know if the doctor in the network is any good?
Doctors Who Specialize in Joint Disorders
There are typically two types of doctors that specialize in bone, joint and ligament disorders. They are:
You may even hear that general practitioners can also treat joint disorders; while this may true, it will depend on their experience and expertise level with using the current technology for treating such disorders. Either way, the doctor and facility should be experienced in the latest treatment options for joint disorders. The following treatments should be well-established treatment options in their practice:
Doctors, who prescribe anti-inflammatory medication or a series of cortisone injections as their only treatment options, show you that they lack the knowledge and/or experience in the latest medical procedures.
If you own a Honda automobile, would you take it to a mechanic who specializes in Mercedes Benz? They both have experience in fixing engines, but with the complexity of today’s technology regarding mechanical engineering, going to a mechanic who specializes in your manufacturer’s engine is essential.
The same is true of doctors. Just because they have trained as a doctor, doesn’t mean they know how to treat a particular disorder. It may be fine for a flu or virus, but more complex disorders are a whole different story!
The Top 4 Questions to Ask a Doctor or Medical Facility
So, as you embark on your journey to find a qualified doctor and facility, we suggest asking them these 4 questions:
1. Do they offer a free medical screening?
This first question is a good barometer of their intent. Do they really want to help your condition get better or just charge you for walking in the door? Joint disorders come in many levels of trauma. You may have slight degenerative joint pain all the way up to worn out cartilage. Knowing which treatment options are best suited for your particular injury or condition takes an experienced doctor. Doctors or medical clinics that offer free medical screenings provide you an easy no-cost way to determine if they can help you.
2. What are the qualifications and experience of the doctors who will perform your treatment?
Don’t be afraid to ask this question. Sometimes doctors see financial opportunities in performing other treatments, even though this isn’t their specialty. Your health isn’t worth the risk of having anyone other than someone who specializes in your condition perform your treatments.
3. Do they offer alternative minimally invasive treatment options?
This question lets you know what services the medical facility offers and how well they are versed in the latest medical treatment options. If they only offer cortisone shots and surgery, you need to consider if it is worth it to meet with them. Also having a range of minimally invasive options available for you, gives you the best possible chance of a successful outcome.
4. Do they offer payment options for your treatments?
As you may already know, treatments like stem cell therapy and platelet rich plasma therapy may not be covered by your insurance. But what if this type of procedure is your best option for a successful outcome? How do you pay for it?
If your insurance does not cover the procedure, then ask the medical clinic if they offer any sort of payment plan. This shows how committed they are in helping you get better.
Take Charge of Your Treatment
It’s your body and times have changed. The old days of just doing what the doctor tells you to do have come and gone. With the advent of the internet, almost anyone can self-diagnose or research. The self-diagnosis thing, bad idea! But it is important to research and understand what your options are. Arming yourself with questions and concerns will help you find the best doctor and end up with a successful result.
As with any form of medical treatment, you should consult with your physician before embarking on any treatment plan. The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be deemed accurate for the purposes of diagnosing your particular medical condition.