You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors and/or experience with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.
Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:
Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and ask questions you may not have thought of.Write out your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.Write down the answers you get, and ask for clarification if necessary.Don't be afraid to ask your questions or to ask for more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.
Do my symptoms suggest that I have RA?Could these symptoms be caused by any other joint diseases?What kinds of tests will I need to have a firm diagnosis?What should I tell my children about their risk of developing RA?
When can I expect to feel improvement from the treatment?What comfort measures (such as heat or cold) might be helpful?What medications can I take to reduce pain and improve my ability to function normally?What side effects do these medications have?Is my RA so advanced that I should consider any surgical procedures?Are there any alternative or complementary therapies that may help me?
What kinds of exercise should I do to increase my muscle strength?Are there exercises that may help me feel better?Are there exercises or athletic activities that I should avoid because they overly stress my joints?Could my occupation be contributing to my joint disease and symptoms?How much rest should I get?Are there any assistive devices that might help me continue to function independently?
What is the usual progression of RA?How can I slow or halt the progression of RA?Do I have to give up or change any of my activities now or in the future?
Handout on health:
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
website. Available at:
http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Rheumatic_Disease/default.asp. Updated August 2014. Accessed October 31, 2014.
Rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis Foundation website. Available at:
http://www.arthritis.org/conditions-treatments/disease-center/rheumatoid-arthritis. October 31, 2014.
Rheumatoid arthritis. The Merck Manual Professional Edition website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/musculoskeletal_and_connective_tissue_disorders/joint_disorders/rheumatoid_arthritis_ra.html. Updated May 2013. Accessed October 31, 2014.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated April 10, 2014. Accessed October 31, 2014.
Tips for talking to your doctor. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at:
http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/healthcare-management/working-with-your-doctor/tips-for-talking-to-your-doctor.html. Updated May 2014. Accessed October 31, 2014.
Last reviewed May 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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