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Finding the Right Doctor to Treat Your RA

RA: Alternative and Complementary Therapies

Because medical treatments don't always relieve joint pain and fatigue, many people with rheumatoid arthritis turn to complementary and alternative options. While some of these therapies may be helpful, others are dangerous. Some could interfere with treatments your rheumatologist prescribes.

You should never try an alternative or complementary therapy without first talking with your doctor. If you're interested in trying alternatives but your doctor is not willing to discuss them, he may not be the right doctor for you.

RA and Your Doctor: Other Factors to Consider

To make the best match, also think about:

  • The office staff. Are they considerate and helpful? Do they return your calls promptly?
  • Accessibility. Can you get an appointment on short notice if you are having a flare? Will the doctor return your calls or respond to your emails promptly? 

If you have a doctor who doesn't have all of the traits you would like, you may be able to improve the situation. Be honest about how you are feeling and the treatments you have tried. Let your doctor know if you have missed a dose of medicine or not been eating healthfully or exercising.

If you are still unhappy, look for another doctor. Check with organizations such as the Arthritis Foundation or American College of Rheumatology for names of rheumatologists in your area. Ask your primary care doctor or friends. Check credentials. Call offices of doctors you're considering and ask questions such as:

  • Is the doctor in a solo practice or part of a group?
  • Can I see the doctor of my choice or must I see the first available doctor?
  • How long is the average wait for an appointment?
  • Does the doctor offer evening or weekend appointments?
  • At what hospital(s) does the doctor have admitting privileges?

Once you have narrowed your choices, schedule appointments to talk with each of your top choices. It may take some time and effort, but it's worth it to find a doctor who's the right fit for you.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on June 25, 2013

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