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Fibromyalgia: Questions for and From Your Doctor

How can I improve communication with my doctor? continued...

It’s also helpful to try to be as honest with your doctor as possible. If you have a problem or question about your treatment, bring it up with your doctor. And if you feel that he’s not taking your questions or concerns seriously, don’t be afraid to get a second opinion or to look for another doctor.

Hassett: Try to be as brief and clear as possible. For example, when describing a symptom, focus on the facts. Tell your doctor when you first noticed the symptom, what it feels like, what time of day it’s the worst, and what, if anything, makes it feel better. You can even write these things down ahead of time so you remember. Try to avoid telling long stories that don’t focus on your symptoms.

It’s also helpful to keep an open, positive attitude about your treatment. Try not to shrug off your doctor’s advice or suggestions without considering them, even if it sounds like something you’ve tried before. Sometimes just a small shift in a treatment, such as a different dose of medication or a new way of exercising, can make a big difference in your results.

Corleone: It’s good idea to keep a diary or journal so you can keep track of your day-to-day symptoms. That way, you can answer any questions your doctor may have, such as how long the symptom has been happening or what makes it feel better or worse.

I also try to listen carefully to what my doctor tells me, and if I don’t understand something, I ask her to explain. Sometimes, I’ll ask her to write down medical terms so I can do my own research when I get home.

What should patients understand about treating fibromyalgia?

Zashin: It’s important to remember that we’re still learning about this condition, so it’s possible your doctor may not have all the answers. You may have to try a few treatments before you find something that helps. But you’re likely to have a better relationship if your doctor has a good understanding of fibromyalgia and is comfortable treating it.

Hassett: Treating fibromyalgia can sometimes mean a lot of work for the patient. Your doctor may suggest that you lose weight, get exercise, or change sleep patterns. Making these types of lifestyle changes can be difficult, so it’s helpful if you and your doctor set goals together and work closely as a team.

Corleone: As a patient, it’s really important to be your own advocate. Learn all you can about the illness, and find a doctor who is familiar with treating fibromyalgia. Getting the right treatment can be a long process, but with patience and support, it is possible to feel better.

Reviewed on January 06, 2011

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