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Where Does It Hurt? Why an Orthopedic Doctor Asks These Questions

Where Does It Hurt? Why an Orthopedic Doctor Asks These Questions

where does it hurt

It’s common for medical professionals to ask their patients some variation of “Where does it hurt?” or “Which part of your body is hurting?” You may wonder why they ask these questions when it is most likely listed in their notes somewhere. However, for orthopedic doctors, a question like this carries a lot of weight.

Orthopedics is the branch of medicine that focuses on musculoskeletal disorders and injuries. How you answer their questions will help them discover the true cause of your pain and develop the best treatment plan.

When an orthopedic doctor asks this question, they’re looking for much more information than just the location of the pain. They want to know the severity of the pain, how long the patient has been feeling the pain, what led up to the pain, and more. For an orthopedic doctor, knowing the exact characteristics of the pain is essential to narrowing down the possible causes of the pain and discomfort.

This blog post will explore why an orthopedic doctor might ask where it hurts and how they use this information to help diagnose conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system.

Who Tends to Ask These Questions?

While you may primarily encounter these questions in a medical setting, they are not limited to just doctors. You may hear these same types of questions from:

  • Parents and guardians
  • General practice physicians
  • Orthopedic doctors and surgeons
  • Nurses
  • Hospital medical staff
  • Sports medicine specialists
  • Physical therapists
  • Rehabilitation therapists
  • Chiropractors
  • Caregivers and home health aides
  • Athletic trainers
  • Other healthcare professionals

Why Do People Ask Us These Questions?

The reasons behind asking these types of questions depends on who is doing the asking. When parents and guardians ask these questions, they are seeking to comfort the child and determine the seriousness of the injury. They want to know what exact part of the body hurts so that they can provide proper care.

For example, if a child falls and lands on their elbow, their parent or guardian may ask them to point to where it hurts. This will give the adult a general idea of where the injury is located, allowing them to assess the injury and determine what kind of medical attention might be necessary. The adult can give some basic first aid if the kid has a few scrapes or a minor injury or seek medical help if the kid has symptoms of a more severe injury, such as a broken upper arm bone or joint.

Similarly, physicians and other healthcare professionals may ask these questions to diagnose an injury or condition. However, they are not coming from the same place of comfort as a parent or guardian.

For example, suppose a patient comes in complaining of shoulder pain. In that case, an orthopedic surgeon will want to know more precisely where the shoulder problem is located so that they can rule out potential causes and get closer to a diagnosis. Exactly what part of the shoulder area hurts? Is it the shoulder joint? Is the tender spot more towards the shoulder blade? The muscle in the upper arm?

An orthopedic surgeon will ask about other characteristics of the pain as well. Is it a severe pain or a dull ache? They may ask you if only one shoulder is in pain or if both shoulders hurt. Medical professionals will also ask about whether a recent injury or repetitive stress could be causing pain.

Usually X-rays and sometimes MRI’s are used to help determine the correct diagnosis. Once all the information is gathered, they can locate the direct source of pain and determine how it should be treated.

This is why it’s crucial to be honest and specific when answering questions. Providing accurate information will help your healthcare provider make the best diagnosis and create an effective treatment plan for you.

Common forms of musculoskeletal conditions that are diagnosed through the use of these types of questions include:

  • Wrist pain
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Rotator cuff problems/Rotator cuff tears
  • Neck pain
  • Ankle injuries
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Tendinitis and bursitis
  • Fractures and broken bones
  • Sprain, strain, and tears in muscles and tendons or ligaments
  • Joint inflammation

These are just some of the many conditions that can be identified with an accurate description of where it hurts. Always answer honestly and accurately when a healthcare professional asks you to point out where it hurts, especially if you have a specific area of pain.

Additionally, you should immediately inform your physician if you know the exact cause of your pain or if your symptoms worsen over time. Some common causes of musculoskeletal pain include:

  • Injury or trauma to the body
  • Overuse of the joints
  • Excessive use of the muscles
  • Inflamed or irritated tendons
  • Chronic illnesses
  • Unusual physical activity
  • Repetitive motions over extended periods 
  • Stress, tension, and anxiety
  • Accidents or sports injury

It’s critical to inform your healthcare provider about the above causes, as this can help them determine the possible treatments and procedures that might be necessary.

What Other Questions Are Usually Asked by Medical Staff?

Aside from asking where it hurts, medical staff may ask other questions, including:

  • When did the pain start?
  • Is it an acute pain that you’ve had a few days or a chronic issue?
  • How did you get hurt?
  • Describe the quality of your pain. Is it sharp or dull?
  • Do you have a reduced range of motion in addition to pain?
  • Does anything make it feel better or worse?
  • Is this a new injury or an ongoing problem?
  • Are there other symptoms, such as swelling or redness? What about numbness or tingling?
  • Do you have any other medical conditions?
  • What is your medical history?
  • What is the medical history of your family and relatives?

Answering these questions can help the medical staff develop an accurate diagnosis and allow them to determine the best treatment option for your condition. Clearly, it’s important to answer their questions honestly and accurately in order to receive the best care.

What Are Some Other Questions an Orthopedic Doctor May Ask a Patient?

Orthopedics deals with the specialized care of the musculoskeletal system, meaning an orthopedic doctor may ask more specific questions about your joint or bone health. These questions can include the following:

  • What type of activity were you doing when you first felt the pain?
  • How would you rate the intensity on a scale from 1 to 10?
  • Has there been any previous injury to that part of your body?
  • Do you have a history of arthritis in your family?
  • Do you have a limited range of motion in the affected area?
  • Do you have any chronic conditions affecting your ability to move or function normally?
  • Do you take any regular medications that could be causing joint pain?
  • Have you tried physical therapy or other treatment options?
  • Is the pain affecting your daily life and activities?
  • Have you considered getting surgery to correct the problem?

Answering these questions will help your orthopedic doctor determine how painful your condition is, any possible causes of pain, other problems that may occur, and the best treatment to help you reduce pain and regain movement.

If you see an orthopedic surgeon, they can provide even more specialized care for intense pain and severe conditions. Orthopedic surgeons perform advanced medical procedures and surgeries to treat musculoskeletal issues.

Are You Suffering From Joint or Muscle Pain? Visit an Orthopedic Doctor Today!

Any type of pain affects your quality of life, so getting it treated as soon as it occurs is essential. If you are experiencing joint or muscle pain, see a doctor to get a proper diagnosis and the best medical care.

At Academy Orthopedics, we specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of musculoskeletal conditions. Our center for orthopedics offers comprehensive health services under one roof, from diagnosis to rehabilitation referral. We can treat everything from sprains in your rotator cuff tendons to chronic wrist pain. We also treat more severe issues including rotator cuff tears, carpal tunnel syndrome, ACL tears, fractures and much more.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment. You can reach us by calling 770-271-9857 or filling out our online form.