Seeking Arthritis Doctors & Arthritis Medical Experts

By: Riley Hendersen

For years you have trusted your primary care doctor to look after the aches and pains you are experiencing as you grow older. At your last appointment, though, your doctor suggested now is the time for you to get more specialized treatment for your arthritis. He wants you to see a rheumatologist. What exactly is a rheumatologist, you wonder, and what can he do that is any different from my doctor? A rheumatologist is basically an arthritis doctor who has been specially trained to diagnose and treat your arthritis symptoms.

Like any other doctor, a rheumatologist can only diagnose the symptoms you tell him about, so be prepared when you attend your first appointment. In fact, you may want to start a week or so in advance to really take stock of your aches and pains. On each day for a week, you should pinpoint which joints hurt and how badly. You may also want to note what the weather was like that day as this can affect arthritis. Your arthritis doctor will also want to know how well you are able to complete day-to-day activities. Does your arthritis keep you from doing simple yard work? Are you able to take a short walk with no pain? Can you lift and carry items easily?

During your first appointment, your arthritis doctor will also want a full medical history. It may be helpful to do a little research and take notes in advance to make sure you will be able to fill out your history completely. Things you will need to know include any family history of rheumatoid arthritis, any past surgical procedures you have had as well as any allergies you may have. You will also need to be able to list the strengths and dosages of any prescription or over-the-counter medicines you take regardless of whether they are related to your arthritis or not. If you're afraid you'll forget any of this information, it may be helpful to take your medicine bottles with you. Based on the medicines you already take, your arthritis doctor will make a decision of what treatment path to follow.

Your first visit to a rheumatologist may be fairly long and you should be prepared for a complete joint exam. The doctor will want to know which joints hurt and what your mobility range is in these joints. He will also check for any joint damage you may have already suffered. Based on his findings, your arthritis doctor will suggest treatment options which may include different arthritis specific medicines, exercise or therapy. Despite what some think, a rheumatologist can do more than prescribe pain medicine for your aches and pains. He may be able to put you on a treatment plan that can actually keep your arthritis from getting worse.

If your family doctor suggests you see a rheumatologist, keep an open mind. These doctors are better trained to treat your arthritis symptoms. In order to make your visit successful, be prepared to give the arthritis doctor as much information about your aches and pains as you can. The success of your first visit depends greatly on you.

Rheumatology
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