What to Tell Your Doctor
Have a consultation with a potential rheumatologist before making a commitment. You want to be sure that the doctor is easy to communicate with and has a good bedside manner. Consider bringing a list of questions and notes to your appointment, including:
- Symptoms you’re currently experiencing
- Therapies you’ve tried in the past
- Therapies you’re using now
- Therapies you’d like to try
- How psoriatic arthritis is affecting your work and home life
- Areas in which you need help, such as exercise or diet
- Your goals for treatment
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Questions to Ask Yourself After the Appointment
It’s worth reviewing your experience after an initial appointment or consultation. How comfortable did you feel with this doctor? Was there anything in particular that bothered you?
Did you feel listened to? Dr. Liebowitz says it’s important that doctors “express empathy and understanding by letting the patient know that they’re hearing them and not just dismissing their concerns.”
Do you understand what the doctor is recommending for your psoriatic arthritis, and do those recommendations seem reasonable to you?
How did you feel about the office staff? How welcoming or helpful were they?
And what are your next steps? You’ll need to determine whether you want to try a treatment plan recommended by this doctor and make a follow-up appointment — or look for a different doctor.
What if You’re Not Satisfied With Your Results?
If you’re not seeing results after a few months, Liebowitz notes that you and your doctor can take some further steps. “It is important for the rheumatologist to keep reevaluating the situation if it’s not going as planned,” he says. “Unfortunately, we’re still in the era of trial and error, where we don’t know which medicines will definitely help which patient. It’s usually not incompetence, but just the matter of finding the right medicine. And that may take a little bit of time and patience. You don’t necessarily need to find a new doctor, but you just need to be on the same page with where to go next.”
RELATED: How to Prepare for Your Next Rheumatology Appointment for PsA
Communication Is Key to Healthy Outcomes
It’s important for patients to share their concerns and for doctors to ask patients what they hope to get out of treatment for their disease. It’s also important for doctors to communicate whether those expectations are realistic and what can actually be achieved.
“Patients need to be their own advocates and be clear about what their goals are. Doctors and patients need to keep asking questions of each other. We are learning more every day, so it’s always good to reevaluate and see if there are other things to think about from a different perspective,” says Liebowitz.
Other Specialists You May Need
Along with a rheumatologist, you may need to consult with other specialists to address psoriatic arthritis symptoms and concerns.
Your healthcare team may include:
Your primary care physician will play a key role in managing your medical team and helping you stay well in the midst of treatment.