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.
Rheumatoid arthritis treatment includes medications that slow the progression of joint damage from rheumatoid arthritis. These drugs are called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), and they are an important part of an overall treatment plan. What are these drugs, and how do they work?
Disease-modifying drugs act on the immune system to slow the progression of rheumatoid arthritis. This is why they are called "disease-modifying." Many different drugs can be used as DMARDs in the treatment...
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.