Osteoarthritis: Your Healthcare Team
If you have osteoarthritis (OA), a number of different kinds of doctors and healthcare professionals can help take care of you.
You may not need to see all of the professionals in this list, but it's nice to know your options. As you read about these different care providers, consider how their expertise might be able to help you.
Primary care physicians (PCP): Your PCP can monitor your overall health. If you have OA, your primary doctor may be the one to refer you to a specialist like a rheumatologist.
Rheumatologists: Doctors who specialize in treating arthritis and related conditions that affect joints, muscles and bones.
Orthopedists: Surgeons who specialize in the surgical treatment of bone and joint diseases.
Physical therapists (PT): Care providers who can work with you to prevent and treat movement problems and enhance physical well-being. They may suggest cardio or muscle-building exercises to help strengthen your body, ease your symptoms and help you lose weight.
Occupational therapists (OT): An OT can teach you ways to protect your joints, minimize pain, conserve energy and perform the activities of daily living (like getting out of a chair or opening a sticky jar).
Nurse practitioner: An Advanced Practice Nurse who can provide high-quality care and treatment to patients. They can diagnose and treat a variety of health problems and inform patients about lifestyle changes that can improve their health.
Physician assistant: Health professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. They perform a comprehensive range of medical duties, from basic primary care to high-technology specialty procedures.
Dietitians: Nutritionist experts who can offer advice on how to eat in ways that will help you improve your health and maintain a healthy weight.
Nurse educators: Nurses who specialize in helping patients understand their condition and implement their doctor's treatment plan.
Physiatrists (rehabilitation specialists): Medical doctors who use non-surgical ways to help patients enjoy restored joint function and an improved ability to move.
Licensed acupuncture therapists: Practitioners who reduce pain and improve physical functioning by inserting fine needles into specific points on the body.
Psychologists: Specialists who can help you cope mentally and emotionally with your problems. It's not unusual for people with OA to feel depressed, anxious or a bit helpless.
Social workers: Trained professionals who can assist you with the challenges caused by disability, unemployment, financial hardships or home healthcare needs.