20 Tips for Managing Your Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment

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Taming an alligator

Management of Rheumatoid Arthritis as a partner with a Rheumatoid Arthritis specialist

I’ve answered so many questions from RA’ers who are unsure why their rheumatologist makes certain decisions. Why does she/he prescribe a certain Rheumatoid Arthritis medicine? When do I need that test? Should RA’ers cooperate blindly with the doctor? Or discretely refuse to comply?

Wouldn’t it be better if there could be a productive discussion? I know that communication is not always marvelous between patients and doctors. We have plenty of suggestions for how doctors can improve their part. However, here are a few things that we can do to have the best stab at a productive relationship.

  1. Get lab work completed promptly. Request your own copies. Keep them in a file with all of your test results.
  2. Look up information about lab test results online to become familiar with what the terms mean.
  3. Ask the doctor to explain exactly what any lab test indicates. If you don’t understand test results, ask him to explain them to you.
  4. Always bring an updated list of your medications and any major changes in health-related factors.
  5. Ask the doctor to explain exactly what any prescription is intended for and what the benefits are for you.
  6. Specifically discuss anything that you suspect to be a side effect of RA medicines.
  7. Bring a list of the top 2 or 3 things that you want the doctor to address during an appointment.
  8. Bring a notebook to write down instructions from the doctor or details you may want look up later.
  9. Ask questions about anything you do not understand. Be understanding if he/she needs to schedule another appointment to discuss lengthy questions.
  10. Bring someone with you to help you to remember any details or provide moral support.
  11. Clearly explain to the doctor how Rheumatoid Arthritis is affecting your work. Be specific about what you are unable to do due to RA.
  12. Convey specifically what Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms prevent you from doing at home, too.
  13. Tell the doctor where it hurts.
  14. Obtain copies of reports for all diagnostic imaging such as x-rays. Keep them in a file. Make sure that you understand the reports. Ask questions if necessary.
  15. Forward any reports from other doctors that you are seeing if they are at all relevant.
  16. Politely request copies of doctor’s notes so that you can see his impressions of each visit and your case.
  17. Ask him /her about any comments in your file that you do not understand or with which you do not agree.
  18. Always bring any insurance identification and documentation. Communicate with office manager about any outstanding balance so that they know you are being conscientious about your account.
  19. Follow office rules whenever possible like wearing no cologne or rescheduling appointments in a timely manner.
  20. Learn as much as possible by reading about Rheumatoid Arthritis in reputable books and websites.

The difficult job of managing Rheumatoid Arthritis treatment

It’s not easy to be an advocate for ourselves. It’s hard to tell others about the Rheumatoid Arthritis pain that we fear makes us sound hypochodriacal. Neither do we want to make requests that may make us appear pushy. It is much easier to advocate for others.

However, we must approach our Rheumatoid Arthritis management in ways which are respectfully assertive. We need to be as clear and specific as possible when we discuss RA symptoms, RA treatment, or other RA-related issues. We also need to be well-informed so that we can make objective decisions which will be best promote our health.

Recommended reading:

21 Things to Know About Finding a New Rheumatologist

Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis: Are There New Clues?

Medical Records Tip for Rheumatoid Arthritis: Read the Doctors’ notes

What is Remission of Rheumatoid Arthritis? Part 1

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Kelly Young. All rights reserved.

This entry was posted on Monday, December 7th, 2009 at 7:32 am and is filed under For the newly diagnosed. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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