Frequently Asked Questions

8. Who provides care for people with osteoarthritis?

Treating arthritis often requires a multidisciplinary or team approach. Many types of health professionals care for people with arthritis. You may choose a few or more of the following professionals to be part of your health care team.

Primary care physicians -- doctors who treat patients before they are referred to other specialists in the health care system. Often a primary care physician will be the main doctor to treat your arthritis. Primary care physicians also handle other medical problems and coordinate the care you receive from other physicians and health care providers.

Rheumatologists -- doctors who specialize in treating arthritis and related conditions that affect joints, muscles, and bones.

Orthopaedists -- surgeons who specialize in the treatment of, and surgery for, bone and joint diseases.

Physical therapists -- health professionals who work with patients to improve joint function.

Occupational therapists -- health professionals who teach ways to protect joints, minimize pain, perform activities of daily living, and conserve energy.

Dietitians -- health professionals who teach ways to use a good diet to improve health and maintain a healthy weight.

Nurse educators -- nurses who specialize in helping patients understand their overall condition and implement their treatment plans.

Physiatrists (rehabilitation specialists) -- medical doctors who help patients make the most of their physical potential.

Licensed acupuncture therapists -- health professionals who reduce pain and improve physical functioning by inserting fine needles into the skin at specific points on the body.

Psychologists -- health professionals who seek to help patients cope with difficulties in the home and workplace resulting from their medical conditions.

Social workers -- professionals who assist patients with social challenges caused by disability, unemployment, financial hardships, home health care, and other needs resulting from their medical conditions.

Chiropractors -- health professionals who focus treatment on the relationship between the body's structure -- mainly the spine -- and its functioning.

Massage therapists -- health professionals who press, rub, and otherwise manipulate the muscles and other soft tissues of the body. They most often use their hands and fingers, but may use their forearms, elbows, or feet.