What are the best questions to ask at my first rheumatologist appointment?

After visiting my family doctor regarding my symptoms and having a lot of blood tests done my doctor feels that it is likely that I have rheumatoid arthritis. It wasn’t easy getting an appointment around here for a rheumatologist (a six week wait!). My appointment is finally coming up in two weeks so I have been keeping a notebook of my symptoms, meds, questions, etc. I was just hoping that people on here could offer up suggestions on what you think are good questions to ask on my first rheumatologist appointment since this is all new to me. I really appreciate any info and support from this site. Thanks.


Community Answers
  • Jo J
    4 months ago

    Some things I find it helpful to clarify with my doctor:

    Being specific about what I need help with and what is most urgent to me.

    What is their goal in treatment? Do they utilize Treat-to-Target? “Please explain to me the target and how we measure progress.”

    Help me understand how long it may take for new drugs or treatments to work.

    When do I need to contact you if things are not getting better, or are actually getting worse? Or if side effects are bothersome.

    What complimentary treatments do they recommend? Specific referrals: PT, massage, yoga, cupping, acupuncture, K-Tape, etc.

    Be aware, doctors can’t just cure RD. They can make our lives better, but other than high dose steroids (NOT a good long term choice), most of their treatments take 1-6 months to tell if they will even work. Pay attention to the actions, such as PT and self care that are recommended. It’s what you have power to do for yourself.

    I’ve had really good luck on follow up appointments by prioritizing what is really bothering me the most – for instance – in the beginning I had such widespread pain it was difficult to prioritize anything. As treatment went on I realized my hip pain held me back the most – it disturbed my sleep, increased fatigue; and limited my daily mobility and endurance. At the next appointment I started with, “I really need your help with my hips. They are really holding me back.” We talked about other joints too, but I swear, he really seemed to appreciate my being specific about what was disturbing my life the most. And offered me some specifics to help my hips then.

  • Richard Faust moderator
    4 months ago

    Hi thanksforinfo. It is great that you are actively seeking information in preparation for your first rheumatologist appointment. On top of the great information from Alesandra, thought you might be interested in this article on what to expect at your first rheumatologist appointment: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/what-to-expect-at-your-first-rheumatologist-appointment/. Wishing you the best and know that this community is here for you. Richard (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

  • thanksforinfo author
    4 months ago

    Thank you Alesandra Bevilacqua for taking the time to answer my inquiry. I really appreciate it and I will definitely be back on this site searching info and hopefully, getting support.

  • Alesandra Bevilacqua moderator
    4 months ago

    Hey thanksforinfo! I think it’s great that you are preparing yourself in advance for your first visit. Keeping a notebook and recording your symptoms and questions is a fantastic idea! Our contributor Kelly wrote an article and listed questions here: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/questions-for-the-doctor/ – I think you’d enjoy reading it. I’m hoping other community members can chime in on other questions to have handy for your doctor. Wishing you the best of luck with your appointment! Come back and keep us in the loop if you’d like to share. Warmly, Alesandra (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

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