While I do have patients who come in with a list of questions to ask, far more are less prepared.
Being diagnosed with rheumatoid is clearly unpleasant, whether the diagnosis was expected or not.
I'm sure many will go home and as they try to come to terms with the diagnosis, questions will crop up.
Here's a list of questions I think you should ask your rheumatologist or get answers to in some other way (such as with this blog or any other number of excellent web-based resources):
- What causes rheumatoid arthritis? Is there a cure?
- Apart from joints, what other areas of the body are affected by rheumatoid arthritis?
- What makes rheumatoid arthritis worse?
- What medications are used to treat rheumatoid arthritis? What medications help to reduce the pain and stiffness?
- How do I prevent long term damage to my joints? I want to avoid my joints developing the deformity I’ve read about and seen pictures of.
- What are the side effects of the medications? Are there long-term effects that I need to consider? Please help me understand the pros and cons of treatment.
- Apart from medications, what else can I do to fight rheumatoid arthritis? What are the lifestyle measures I can institute? I’d like to know about exercise and diet.
- Will treatment allow me to do all the normal things I enjoy in my life?
- How soon can I expect to see results from treatment? What should I do if these treatments aren’t helping?
- How do you judge how well you’re treating the rheumatoid arthritis? What’s involved in monitoring the disease? What tests will I need from now on?
While it might not be possible to answer all these questions in one appointment (I'm mindful my rheumatology colleagues are very busy), I think starting the dialogue is important.
I also believe that finding answers to these questions will help empower you, and prepare you to take control of this disease.