Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

The Medical Assistant’s Role in the Examination, Diagnostic Procedures, and Treatments

April 11, 2024

The Medical Assistant’s Role in the Examination, Diagnostic Procedures, and Treatments

Learning Objective: Examine the medical assistant’s role in examinations, diagnostic procedures, and treatments for musculoskeletal conditions.

Musculoskeletal disorders are common in primary care, urgent care, orthopedics, and rheumatology departments. Medical assistants help the provider with examinations, diagnostic procedures, and treatments. Chapter 21 provides additional information on the medical assistant’s role in examinations, diagnostic procedures, and treatments.

Assisting with the Examination and Diagnostic Procedures

Learning Objective: Describe the medical assistant’s role in assisting with examinations and diagnostic procedures.

During the exam, the provider may use inspection, palpation, range-of-motion (ROM) testing, and muscle testing to examine the major skeletal muscles and joints. Many times, the unaffected side is examined first and compared to the affected side. The provider may compare the size, position, and strength of the extremities. Depending on the concern, the provider may also perform a gait analysis, which means the provider observes the patient walking. Gait abnormalities may be the cause or the result of different musculoskeletal conditions.
If medical assistants are in the room for the exam, they may be responsible for taking notes, keeping the patient draped properly, and assisting by handing equipment to the provider. Always keep patient safety in mind, especially when the patient is transferring onto and off of the exam table and changing positions.
The medical assistant assists with diagnostic procedures by scheduling and preparing patients for procedures and laboratory tests. Chapter 21 describes common diagnostic procedures for the musculoskeletal system. TABLE 20.2 lists common laboratory tests used for musculoskeletal conditions.

20.12

Critical Thinking Application

As Dr. Kahn finishes his exam with Walter, he asks Suzanne to join them as they discuss Walter’s test results. Dr. Kahn ordered an RF test, Lyme disease antibody test, ESR, and C-reactive protein (CRP) through the clinical laboratory. What information will each of the lab tests give Dr. Kahn?

Table 26.5

Medical Laboratory Tests for Musculoskeletal Diseases and Disorders

TestDefinition
Acetylcholine receptor (AChR) antibody testBlood test that measures the AChR antibodies, which are produced by the immune system. AChR antibodies mistakenly attack the protein, AChR, found on voluntary (skeletal) muscles.
C-reactive protein (CRP)Blood test; some are CLIA-waived tests. CRP is produced by the liver and increases with inflammation. The CRP is a nonspecific indicator of inflammation.
Creatine kinase (CK) or creatine phosphokinase (CPK)Blood test that measures the CK, which is an enzyme that increases with damage or disease of the skeletal muscle, heart, or brain.
Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR)CLIA-waived blood test. Measures how quickly the red blood cells (RBCs) in a blood sample settle to the bottom of the test tube. The quicker they settle, the more it indicates inflammation in the body. The ESR is a nonspecific indicator of inflammation.
Lyme disease blood antibodiesBlood or cerebrospinal fluid test; some are CLIA-waived tests. Also called Lyme Antibodies IgM/IgG by Western Blot. Tests looks for antibodies to Borrelia, which causes Lyme disease.
Rheumatoid factor (RF)Blood test; some are CLIA-waived tests. Looks for RF present in the blood.

Assisting with Treatments

Learning Objective: Describe the medical assistant’s role in treatments.

Musculoskeletal conditions are treated with a variety of procedures, devices, and medications. (Chapter 21 discusses immobilization therapies, additional therapies, and assistive devices that are used for musculoskeletal disorders.) TABLE 20.3 lists common procedures used to treat musculoskeletal conditions.
The following are some of the more common classifications of medications used for musculoskeletal conditions:

• Analgesic: Relieves pain
• Anticonvulsant and mood stabilizer: Used to prevent seizures and to treat neuromuscular disorders and epilepsy
• Antigout: Treats gout
• Anti-inflammatory: Reduces the inflammation in the body and is used to treat injuries and inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis, strains, and tendinitis
• Corticosteroid: Reduces the inflammation in the body and is used to treat chronic inflammatory diseases (e.g., arthritis)
• Muscle relaxant: Works on the central nervous system (CNS) to relax muscles, which treats conditions such as sprains and muscle injuries
• Osteoporosis agent: Promotes bone mineral density and reverses the progression of osteoporosis
• Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitor: Treats autoimmune disorders (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis)

Refer to TABLE 20.4 for information on the medication classification, including indications for use, desired effect, side effects, adverse reactions, and generic and trade names. Medical assistants should be familiar with medications that are prescribed to patients.