Working as a Physiotherapist in a busy Rheumatology clinic means I see many people living with Rheumatoid Arthritis and other rheumatic diseases.
Some of the most common questions I get asked by my clients are:
“Who do I see for help?”
“Who can help me with my health now I have RA?”
“Who can help me manage my pain?”
It can often be overwhelming when being referred to different practitioners and/or places. Although at BJC we believe that the management of Rheumatoid Arthritis is best achieved with the support of a number of practitioners, we have learnt that each client is different and many appreciate a “one step at a time” approach. We are continually striving to achieve a health care journey which is smooth and tailored to each client's needs. Different practitioners will offer different services, however they should all be assisting you in achieving the best health possible.
So who should be part of your health-care team?
Your Family and Friends
Vital in all aspects of life, it’s important that those closest to you understand and appreciate what RA is, and how it may affect you. Friends and family are the ones who can offer support through flares and the more difficult periods that you may encounter. However, they are also the ones who are there to help you celebrate and enjoy when you feel you are managing well! Supportive friends and family can make all the difference when you are facing any challenges relating to your RA. They can also be present to help you make decisions related to medication changes, exercise and any other health intervention that may impact your life. At BJC, we welcome partners and close friends into consults as we appreciate the support can often make all the difference. It's helpful for them to have a basic understanding of the condition, so a resource like our book- stuff you should know about Rheumatoid Arthritis (check it out here) or other online resources can be invaluable.
Your GP will likely be your first point of call in managing your condition and referrals to the relevant specialists. It’s important that they know your full medical history as other conditions can impact your management of Rheumatoid Arthritis. You’ll need to find someone that you have a good connection with as you will be visiting them over the years to help in your management. They may be able to help with medication changes and they will communicate closely with your rheumatologist.
Your Rheumatologist is an expert in RA, and will work closely with you to achieve the best possible outcomes when it comes to your health. They will be keen to control the disease process as quickly and aggressively as possible, read more HERE about the window of opportunity and why it is our goal with RA. In time, your rheumatologist should be someone that you highly trust as they’ll be the one that assists you in making major decisions relating to medications. They will be the one driving your diagnosis, prognosis, further referrals and testing any medication changes. Management of these conditions has progressed significantly over the years and is highly advanced in this modern age.
Your Allied Health Team
Your Rheumatologist and GP will help you work out whether you need some allied health members in your team. This could include a physiotherapist or exercise physiologist to help get you doing more with less pain. Read here for our teams approach for what to do when experiencing a flare of your condition. A dietitian may also be of assistance to help with weight management, anti-inflammatory eating and improve any digestive issues that may be troubling you.
Aside from your family and Friends, there are also Rheumatoid Arthritis support groups online and in person which can provide valuable information and support. We appreciate that it can be quite comforting to connect with others who have experience with the condition. In a future blog post I will go through some of the avenues available and how these groups can help to offer useful suggestions and reassurance.
Is there anyone else that you find really helps in you or your loved ones management of Rheumatoid Arthritis? If so drop a comment below or on our Facebook page.