Your first appointment with a rheumatologist can be scary. You don’t know what to expect, but you hope that you’ll have some answers or a plan of action for dealing with your pain.
Though not knowing what to expect can make you feel anxious, we at the Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics - MMI Division promise there’s nothing to be afraid of. Here’s what you can expect from your first rheumatology appointment:
Because this is your first appointment, your rheumatologist wants to know as much as possible about your symptoms and how they’re impacting your life. You may be asked to complete this information prior to your appointment, or a nurse may go over important questions at your first appointment.
While your rheumatologist’s office will receive your pertinent medical records, it’s important for your doctor to know what symptoms and difficulties you experience on a daily basis. This information helps your rheumatologist order the correct tests, make the right diagnosis, and prescribe the best course of treatment for you, so be as honest and thorough as you can when answering these questions.
Your rheumatologist will next complete a physical examination of you. Much of this exam may focus on your joints, especially ones that give you more problems or where you have more pain. The doctor may squeeze or manipulate your joints, which helps him get an idea of their level of function and start providing clues for a diagnosis.
It’s important that, during this portion of your appointment, you are fully honest about when, where, and how much pain you experience at any point. Do not under report your pain simply for the sake of looking “tough.” Your rheumatologist needs to know the level and source of your pain to begin making a diagnosis.
Depending on the setup of your rheumatologist’s office, your doctor may send you off for some testing during your appointment. X-rays, ultrasounds, and lab work are all common at this early stage of treatment. If your rheumatologist’s office does not have on-site testing or lab facilities, he may write orders for you to get these tests done at another facility.
Once your rheumatologist has completed his exam and given you an idea of next steps, you will have the opportunity to ask questions. It may be a good idea to think prior to your appointment of some things you’d like to know and then write them down; it’s amazing how easily you can forget even questions that seem pressing when you’re not in the doctor’s office.
Some good questions to ask your doctor are suggestions for what to do if you’re in pain, whether you should make modifications to your diet or activity level, and if there are any vitamins or supplements you could begin taking now that might help with your condition. Don’t be afraid to ask difficult or uncomfortable questions; your rheumatologist is there to help you feel better, and asking questions about how your condition impacts your life is important.
At the Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics - MMI Division, we truly care about helping our patients feel better and regain their quality of life. Our two experienced rheumatologists offer the most minimally invasive methods for treating your pain as possible, and they continue to ask questions until they arrive at the most satisfying answers for your pain. Should your condition require infusion therapy services, our on-site infusion therapy suites offer comfortable, welcoming environments for you to receive your medication. Schedule your appointment today!