Get the Most From Your Rheumatologist Visits

Here are some tips and tricks to approaching your next appointment.

Health Monitor Staff
More Sharing +

The key to getting optimal treatment for rheumatoid arthritis is maximizing your doctor’s visits. Get started with the following steps. 

  1. Blurt this out first!
    We’re talking about the stuff you’re a little embarrassed about…Maybe your meds are interfering with your sex life. Or you’ve been feeling especially down lately. Whatever it is, don’t wait until the end of the exam to raise the issue. Speaking up at the beginning of your exam will clue your doctor in to the symptoms he or she needs to look for.

    Can’t get the words out? Try practicing in front of a mirror, or ask if you can email your doctor before your appointment. You might find it easier to put the concern in writing rather than open up about it in person.
  2. Craft your concern.
    Presenting your problem is your main contribution to the office visit—and patients who master the skill help ensure they get the most effective diagnosis and treatment.

    The key? Be specific. Explain what you feel, when it began, its severity, any possible triggers, its duration and what—if anything—brings relief.
  3. Don’t be a yes-man.
    Look, there is no point letting your doctor believe you’ll follow a diet that contains absolutely no bananas if bananas are your all-time favorite food. So if your doctor starts prescribing medications and/or lifestyle changes you know you won’t be able to stick to, don’t just nod and smile. Instead, be frank: “Doctor, I know that won’t work for me because [insert your reason]. Is there another option that would work better with my [schedule, preferences, etc.]?” 

Just ask!
Most patients ask an average of only two questions during a doctor visit. Don’t be one of them! Here, basic questions to ask…

  • After describing your symptoms: “What are the five most likely reasons for my symptoms?”
  • If a test is recommended: “How should I prepare?” “Are any risks involved?“ “What will the results reveal?” “What happens if I don’t have the test?” “What happens next?”
  • If a new drug is prescribed: “Why do I need it?” “Why do you think this is the best option for me?” “How does it work?” “How long will I need to be on it?” “Are there any special instructions for taking it?” “Can I stop taking it if I feel better?” “What are the side effects?” “What should I watch out for?”
April 2013