What to Expect - Rheumatology

Prepare for your rheumatology appointment, and learn what to expect when you arrive. A little pre-planning will save time and make your run appointment smoother.

Before the appointment

Analyzing your symptoms is an important part of diagnosing a rheumatic condition. Before your appointment, take a few moments to prepare answers to these questions to make sure you don’t forget any important details:

  • When did you notice the symptoms?
  • Have the symptoms gotten worse over time?
  • Have new symptoms appeared?
  • Do you have a family history of these symptoms?
  • What made you decide to see a doctor?

Though laboratory testing and a physical examination are an important part of how we diagnose rheumatic conditions, talking about your symptoms and how they affect your life will clue your doctor in to potential causes.

You’ll also want to create a list of your current medications, including vitamins, herbs and supplements. Please write down the dosages and how long you’ve been taking them. This will help your rheumatologist determine an effective treatment plan while minimizing the risk of drug interactions.

Please also take a moment to write down your preliminary questions. Our rheumatologists will take as much time as necessary to help you understand your condition and treatment options.

During the appointment

Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms, such as:

  • How do the symptoms affect your daily life?
  • Have you lost interest in, or the ability to participate in, activities you enjoy?
  • Have the symptoms affected your relationships or intimate life?
  • What foods, activities or over-the-counter remedies make you feel better?
  • What makes you feel worse?

After this conversation, the rheumatologist will examine the areas affected by your symptoms, and may do a more thorough physical examination if necessary. You may be asked to demonstrate your range of motion, so please be prepared to move around during the appointment.

The doctor may order laboratory or imaging tests to diagnose the condition. You may need multiple tests to pinpoint your diagnosis. This process can take some time, so please be prepared to make additional appointments as needed.

After the appointment

Once a diagnosis is confirmed, the rheumatologist will develop a treatment plan to relieve your symptoms. The treatment plan may include:

  • Diet changes
  • Exercise recommendations
  • Medication
  • Hot/cold therapy
  • Relaxation techniques

It’s important to follow your rheumatologist’s recommendations. The treatment plan will be tailored to your needs, lifestyle and co-existing conditions. If you have questions or something isn’t working, reach out to your doctor to adjust your therapies or medications.

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