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Talking to Your Doctor About Rheumatoid Arthritis

You have your own health history. Talk with your doctor about your risk factors and background with RA. By talking openly and often with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.

Tips for Getting Information

Here are some tips that will make it simpler for you to talk to your doctor:

  • Bring someone with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask. They may also be able to provide more details to the doctor.
  • Write down your questions so you do not forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get and make sure you grasp what you are hearing. Ask for help if you need it.
  • Do not be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information. You have a right to know.

Specific Questions to Ask Your Doctor

About RA

  • Do my symptoms suggest that I have RA?
  • Could these symptoms be caused by any other joint diseases?
  • What kinds of tests will I need to have a firm diagnosis?
  • What should I tell my children about their risk of developing RA?

About Treatment

  • When can I expect to feel better?
  • What home care steps might help?
  • What medicines can I take to ease pain and improve function?
  • What side effects do these medicines have?
  • Should I have surgery?
  • Are there any alternative or complementary therapies that may help me?

About Lifestyle Changes

  • What kinds of exercise should I do to increase my muscle strength?
  • Are there exercises that may help me feel better?
  • Are there exercises or activities that I should not do?
  • Could my job be adding to my joint disease and symptoms?
  • How much rest should I get?
  • Are there any devices that might help me continue to be independent?

About Outlook

  • What is my outlook?
  • How can I slow or prevent damage?
  • Do I have to give up or change any of my activities now or in the future?
REFERENCES:

Aletaha D, Smolen JS. Diagnosis and Management of Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Review. JAMA. 2018 Oct 2;320(13);1360-1372.

Rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis Foundation website. Available at: http://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/rheumatoid-arthritis. January 27, 2020.

Rheumatoid arthritis. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/musculoskeletal-and-connective-tissue-disorders/joint-disorders/rheumatoid-arthritis-ra. Updated December 2018. Accessed January 27, 2020.

Rheumatoid arthritis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Rheumatic_Disease/default.asp. Updated September 2019. Accessed January 27, 2020.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/rheumatoid-arthritis-ra. Updated May 22, 2019. Accessed January 27, 2020.

Last reviewed November 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM  Last Updated: 1/27/2020