What you need to tell your doctor...

by Manjit Saluja

There was a time when mention of the word 'Doctor' filled one with dread, children had to be dragged, grown ups visited doctors with a sense of impending doom. He was seen as an enemy out to get you.

Ours are different times. The dynamics of doctor- patient relations have completely reinvented themselves. 'Doctor' is our ally now, on our side, almost our friend. Great care is being taken to make clinics patient friendly, a comfort zone. Doctors are now making that extra effort to calm the already frazzled nerves of the patients. The purpose is that the patient can confide and talk to the doctor in a completely relaxed manner. Because the information provided by the patient is absolutely imperative for the doctor, to take his decision on the line of treatment. The outcome of the treatment solely depends on what you tell your doctor. Once you overcome the few moments of awkwardness, it can be a truly fruitful journey for both the parties. A doctor is not only concerned about your physical health but also contributes to your emotional and mental well being.

At the outset you must have complete clarity as to all the things that you must tell the doctor. Arthritis makes its presence felt by the symptoms. You have to be alert to these symptoms. When they started, whether you feel them constantly like a pain that does not go away or the symptoms are on and off, like abdominal pain that may exist for a while and disappear at certain times. The times too have to be reported accurately, whether it's in the morning hours that are bothersome or the evenings

Vigil has to be kept on, whether there are some triggers, could be if you eat a particular vegetable, you feel nausea. The degree of pain and discomfort are also very important to report. Whether the pain is bearable or renders you immobile. How the symptoms are affecting your appetite, your work and home life, no information is irrelevant.

You must also chart out all that you consume, besides your regular food. As the additional supplements, boosters, tonics, laxatives, mood enhancers, anti-depressants, all these impact your bodies in some form. The doctor must be informed about these as they may not mix well with the medication he prescribes. These may then cause side- effects or a new set of symptoms.

Beside the current status, the doctors also must be told about any prior illness, treatments, and surgeries. Any recurring family history of disease. If the doctor is forewarned, he remains prepared for any complications that may arise.

Once you decide on a particular physician for your treatment, then trust in him is vital. Your life may sometimes depend on it. At least everything that relates to how you've been feeling and how that's impacted your life.

What happens to our bodies is never an isolated incident. It is all inter-connected. The beginnings of disease may sometimes be in our gene-pool, our dietary habits, lack of exercise, excessive drug abuse or simply a virus that we accidentally pick up. Every little detail is relevant to the doctor. As they say it is better to be safe than sorry.

The best patient is one who keeps the doctor informed on all that is going on even if it looks trivial. Take note of any changes either positive or negative to discuss with your rheumatologist in your next visit so that you get the best care possible.

In short you should inform your doctor the following:  Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should inform their doctors

You should also inform the doctor about your pain and stiffness that you feel in the joints:  What to Tell About Your Pain
Be sure to tell your doctor the following:
What to Tell About Joint Stiffness
Joint stiffness is a key factor in arthritis. So, it's important to tell your doctor about stiffness:
Developing a good relationship with your doctor is important in ensuring that you get the best outcomes from your treatment. You should feel confident talking with your doctor about the impact of the disease on your life; determine what treatment options you have available to you and what you can expect to happen when treated. You may find it helpful to take a close friend or family member with you to help with these conversations.

By taking an active role in your arthritis care with exercise, good nutrition and regular medical follow-ups you can make a positive difference to your own treatment. You can also monitor and record the level of disease activity you experience over time as this information reflects how well your current treatments are working. This will help your doctor decide if you need to change your treatment, particularly if you are experiencing a worsening of your symptoms over time. This is important in reducing the joint damage that arthritis can cause. If you are not getting the response you want from your current therapy, talk to your doctor about the range of treatment options available.

Suffering from arthritis doesn't mean putting life on hold ... Learn to communicate effectively with your doctor, So speak up, be proactive, and help your rheumatologist