Working With Your Doctor to Manage Rheumatoid Arthritis
Studies have shown that people with rheumatoid arthritis who see a rheumatologist regularly (several times a year) do better than people who visit erratically or not at all. The first step is finding one!
Your primary care doctor can refer you to a rheumatologist. If you like your doctor and have a good relationship, chances are good you'll get along with the rheumatologist your doctor recommends.
You may be able to see a rheumatologist directly without a referral; check your insurance plan and its list of providers.
Ask around: someone you know may have had a good experience and be able to recommend a rheumatologist.
In many parts of the country, rheumatologists are in short supply. Even if you feel like the situation with your own rheumatologist could be better, don't stop going. Either try to find a way to work through the problems, or continue your regular visits while you search for a new rheumatologist.
Being in pain can be the most difficult part of living with rheumatoid arthritis. While medicines help, they don't always make the pain go away completely. In fact, most people with rheumatoid arthritis are faced with frequent or ongoing pain that affects their outlook on life and can lead to depression and anger.
While you may not be able to avoid pain, you can take control of the situation with strategies that keep pain in its place.
Referrals or the addition of new treatment team members, if needed. This could include physical or occupational therapists, psychologists, orthopedic surgeons, or other health professionals.
Many times, you may feel like not much at all was done, or nothing has changed. Was the visit a waste of your time, or your rheumatologist's time? Nothing could be further from the truth.
If no changes to therapy need to be made, chances are good your rheumatoid arthritis is stable and progressing slowly, if at all.
Regular visits, however brief, build the relationship between you and your rheumatologist. Your case of rheumatoid arthritis is unique, because everyone is affected differently. The more often you go, the better your doctor can understand you as a person, as well as your rheumatoid arthritis and how it affects your life overall.