What to expect when you visit a rheumatologist's office (2023)

If you think you can haverheumatoide Arthritisand you are seeing a rheumatologist for the first time, you are on the right track. Studies show that the sooner you seek treatmentrheumatoide Arthritis, you're more likely to feel better sooner and stay active longer.

What is a rheumatologist?

You are an internist (specialist in internal medicine for adults) or atpediatrician(a doctor who treats children from birth to adulthood). They have received special training in diseases that affect the joints, muscles and bones, including those known as autoimmune diseases orrheumatic diseases. The conditions they treat include:

  • long termback pain
  • Drop
  • Lupus
  • arthrosis
  • Rheumatoide Arthritis
  • tendinitis
  • Psoriasis-Arthritis

These doctors are trained to create a treatment plan just for you. Your first visit will be part talk, part inquiry. Your appointment may take an hour or more, but it will be worth it.

Because RA is a long-term condition, you will see this doctor frequently. They will update your treatment and work with you to manage your condition.

Where do rheumatologists work?

You will mainly find them in walk-in clinics. They are usually attached to a local hospital so they can work with people who have been admitted there to treat rheumatic diseases.

How do I find one?

Your family doctor can refer you to a rheumatologist. but if youfor suredoes not require a referral, you can call them and make an appointment yourself.

(Video) What to expect when you see a Rheumatologist

What questions will my rheumatologist ask?

One of the first questions the doctor will ask is, "What brings you here?" This is your chance to tell them how RA is affecting your life.

Then get ready to answer many other questions, such as:

  • what are your symptoms
  • How often do you have symptoms? (Always, daily, weekly, every now and then?)
  • What Makes You Feel Better? (The exercise, rest, medicine?)
  • What makes you feel worse? (Lack of activity, insufficientsleep,emphasize, eat a certain kind of food?)
  • these activitiescauses pain? (Run, bend down, stretch, sit too long?)
  • where in your body is the pain
  • how bad is hePains?
  • What words best describe your pain? (Dull, sharp, throbbing, throbbing, burning, aching, spasmodic, radiant?)
  • How does pain feel? (Weary, upset, sick?)
  • Does it stop you from doing things you enjoy? (gardening, shopping, babysitting, havingSex?)
  • Are there any other symptomstogether, muscle or bone pain associated with it? (eruptions,itch,dry mouthÖEyes,Fever, infections?)
  • Does anyone in your family have RA?

Some of the questions may not sound like they're related to rheumatoid arthritis, but your doctor has a good reason to ask them. Tell them if you want to know why or if you are uncomfortable.

What questions should I ask?

Also, ask any questions you have about the visit and the recommended treatments. It's natural to ask yourself things like:

  • How advanced is mineArthritis? Are my joints damaged?
  • How long will it take before I feel better?
  • What can I do to sleep through the night?
  • What are the possible side effects of RA drugs?
  • How can I prevent these side effects? When should I call you about you?
  • I don't like taking medication. What are my other options?
  • Do I need to take medication for RA for the rest of my life?
  • What should I do if the pain gets worse?
  • What types of exercises should I do?
  • would youphysical therapyHelp me?
  • Are there any natural or complementary treatments I can try?
  • Are there foods I should avoid?
  • Do I have to change something at work?
  • Recommend me looking for oneclinical study?
  • Should I be worried my kids will get it?
  • Am I disabled?
  • Does it affect other parts of my body?
  • Where can I find resources to help me learn more about living with the disease?
  • How do I find a support group?

Physical examination

It starts like a normal office visit. Your doctor:

  • Check them out from head to toe, including yoursEyes,bocaand skin
  • look for signs ofinflammationsuch as swelling, warmth, redness, nodules (growths under theFell) and eruptions
  • Take your pulse and listen to yoursHerz,Lunge, and gut
  • Squeeze your joints to see if they hurt

Then you will be asked to flex, flex and stretch your joints and muscles. You will compare the joints on one side of your body to the other as RA often affects both sides. This part of the exam can be painful, but it's important for the doctor to see how you move. Talk if it hurts too much.

(Video) Johns Hopkins Rheumatology Clinic : What to Expect During Your Visit

What are the Tests for Rheumatoid Arthritis?

The doctor will want to check yoursSangreand other liquids. They will also likely take photos of your joints.

laboratory tests

The doctor may use a needle to draw blood or synovial fluid while you are in the office. Or they send you to a lab for these tests. Rheumatologists look for signs ofinflammationif:

  • Antibody against cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP).They indicate bone damage from RA.
  • C-reactive protein (CRP).Levels go up when you have inflammation.
  • Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR or Sedimentation Rate).Measures the rate at which blood settles at the bottom of a test tube. Faster withdrawal is a sign of inflammation.
  • Rheumatoid factor.Your body makes these proteins when it attacks healthy tissue.
  • synovial fluid.Your doctor will examine it for protein, signs of infection, and lack of thickness.

imaging tests

Your doctor may order X-rays; amagnetic resonanceScanning, which uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create a more detailed image; or aComputed Tomography, which takes x-rays from different angles and stitches them together to get more information.

You may not receive a definitive diagnosis of RA at your first visit. In some cases, it may require a few appointments with your rheumatologist to rule out other causes of your joint pain.

(Video) Preparing for your rheumatology appointment

What are the next steps?

Your rheumatologist will use all of this information to decide what to do next.

They may work with you to set treatment goals that show the disease is under control, such as: B. reducing signs of inflammation in the blood, as well as quality of life goals, such as. B. Enjoyment of family activities.

medicationYour rheumatologist will likely prescribemethotrexate, a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD). These medicines stop yourimmune systemso it stops attacking your joints. The result is less inflammation and less pain. Your doctor may also direct you to take over-the-counter pain relievers or prescribe low-dose corticosteroids to reduce swelling.

If your RA is more advanced, you may have tomedicationso-called biological response modifiers. Over time, you and your rheumatologist will find the combination that's right for you.

physical therapyErgotherapy.Your doctor may suggest meeting with one or both of these health professionals. Physical therapists can teach you exercises to help move your joints and make them stronger. Occupational therapists can show you how to take stress off your joints during daily activities.

Lifestyle Changes.exercise and weight control.They can be part of your treatment plan. You need to move your joints to keep them from becoming stiff and to strengthen the muscles around them. If you areoverweight, shedding extra pounds can relieve your joints and reduce pain.

What can I do to help?

Rheumatologists are like detectives looking for clues to help ease your pain and treat your condition. Here's how to give your new doctor a head start:

Make a timeline.Go back as far as you can remember. Describe your symptoms and how they have changed over time.

Research something about the family.What problems are there in your family? Find out as much as you can about the health of your grandparents, parents, and siblings.

Make a list of your medications.Your rheumatologist needs to know about any medication you're taking:

  • All your prescriptions for RA and other health issues
  • Over-the-counter medications, ointments, and other pain relievers
  • Vitamins, herbs and supplements

You can write a list or put all the bottles in a bag and take them with you.

Ask your other doctors for copies of your documents and any test or X-ray results and take them with you as well.

By the end of this first visit, your new rheumatologist will know a lot about you and your RA. And you have a valuable new partner on your healthcare team.

(Video) What is Rheumatology When should one see a Rheumatologist? - Dr. Yathish G. C

(Video) What to Expect on your Visit with the Arthritis Center


1. When Should I see a Rheumatologist?
2. How to Prepare for a Virtual Visit or Appointment with Your Rheumatologist
3. When do you need to meet a rheumatologist
(Optima Hospital)
4. Clinical Studies | Live Expert Q&A with Dr. Reiff
(Lupus LA)
5. 6 Myths about Rheumatologists
(Connected Rheumatology)
6. Entering the Rheum: Preparing for Your Doctor Visit and Beyond
(Kaleidoscope Fighting Lupus)


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