Finding Dr. Right for Your Fibromyalgia
Do you need a specialist?
Wanted: Fibromyalgia Provider continued...
"Even if they don't have a great deal of experience treating fibromyalgia, willingness to treat it certainly counts," she tells WebMD. "It makes less difference how many patients they're treating with fibromyalgia, if they're open-minded."
For short-term fibromyalgia therapy: You will likely need physical, occupational, speech, and cognitive therapists who can treat certain aspects of your illness. You won't see them long-term, just for awhile to get exercises you can do on your own. "They can really help with quality of life -- make a big improvement," Jones says.
Physical therapists can treat plantar fasciitis, posture, and other conditions related to fibromyalgia. "It's very important to find someone who is not just focused on sports medicine," she adds. Occupational therapists can make suggestions to minimize stress on certain parts of your body.
Speech therapists who treat head trauma and stroke patients can help fibromyalgia patients with 'fibro fog.' "The therapies they utilize can help with cognitive problems -- memory and thinking difficulties," Jones says. "It's a big quality of life improvement for these patients. There's nothing more distressing than having trouble thinking."
If therapists in the past haven't helped you, don't give up, Jones advises. "Find someone who knows fibromyalgia -- or who at least works with older people. That's a bitter pill to swallow if you're 40 years old, but the exercises they prescribe will be similar."
Check with pain clinics. Some treat chronic fatigue, but not fibromyalgia. Ask if they treat fibromyalgia. How many patients have that diagnosis? Ask if one of the fibromyalgia patients could call you to discuss their experience with the pain clinic. "Pain clinics can be hit-and-miss, whether they treat fibromyalgia or not," Jones says.
Interviewing Your Potential Health Care Providers
Schedule a no-cost interview with each provider who interests you. Make it clear to the receptionist or nurse scheduling appointments that this is not a medical exam -- just an interview. At your interview, provide a short list of your medical problems or symptoms. Be brief. Keep the interview to 10 or 15 minutes.
The National Fibromyalgia Association suggests this list of questions:
- Are you comfortable with diagnosing and treating fibromyalgia?
- How many fibromyalgia patients have you treated?
- Are you familiar with my other conditions?
- What medications do you usually prescribe for fibromyalgia? Do you have a problem with the medications I am currently taking?
- What do you feel is adequate pain control?
- Can you treat depression or must I see a specialist?
- Are you familiar with alternatives therapies? What therapies do you recommend?
- How can you and I communicate best?