Evaluations are an important tool in recommending the best treatment at LA Orthopedic Group.
If something goes wrong with one of the structures in your body that results in some degree of pain, the main goal is to determine what’s causing your discomfort so an appropriate treatment can be recommended. It’s a process typically requiring one or more evaluations to determine what symptoms are being experienced and what’s going on within your body.
- Your body is made up of more than 200 bones
- You also have an assortment of joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves
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A physical exam is one of the most common evaluations performed to get an idea of what might be causing pain or affecting joint movements. This type of evaluation usually involves looking for changes in skin color like bruising and swelling, growths such as calluses, and deformities around joints. Your ability to walk or make certain movements might also be evaluated along with your reflex responses, flexibility, muscle strength, and range of motion.
A stress test may be done to evaluate how bones, joints, and muscles respond to some degree of stress while walking on a treadmill. Underlying health issues that may or may not be related to your current discomfort will also be considered. Conditions such as diabetes, for example, can affect tissues and contribute to inflammation and other issues. A typical physical exam also takes the following information into consideration:
- Overall medical history
- Experiences with previous treatments for similar pain
- Descriptions of what activities or movements seem to trigger symptoms
- Medications currently being taken and the related effects
- Previous injuries or medical conditions
A physical examination sometimes provides several clues about what’s likely causing pain, but it’s diagnostic testing that often confirms a diagnosis. The most common diagnostic evaluation performed is an X-ray, a test that provides a better look at bones. Since soft tissues do not show up clearly on X-rays, CT and MRI scans may also be done to view tissues and structures in greater detail.
Diagnostic testing is sometimes based on a suspected condition. For instance, a bone scan is typically performed to diagnose osteoporosis and a discography may be done to determine if it’s a spinal disc that’s causing low back pain. Diagnostic evaluations may also include:
- An ultrasound to detect blockages in blood vessels
- Nerve conduction studies
- An electromyography (EMG) to test electrical activity in muscles
- Joint aspiration and analysis to test fluid around a joint
If a closer evaluation of a joint is necessary, an arthroscopy may be done. It’s a technique performed with a small incision and a tube with a camera attached. When done for diagnostic purposes, it’s used to visualize internal structures to determine how much damage has been done to connective tissues or whether or not there are loose bone fragments or pieces of cartilage that may be contributing to the pain experienced.
Evaluations can also be follow-up in nature after an initial diagnosis has been made to determine if treatments are working or assess how a condition is progressing. This information is used to make adjustments to physical therapy routines and medications prescribed or to decide if surgery may provide relief. Actively participating in any evaluations you may undergo by describing your symptoms in as much detail can help your doctor make treatment recommendations more likely to be beneficial.