How To Find A Good Fibromyalgia Doctor
A step by step guide to finding a reliable doctor and
getting proper treatment by SIMONE RAVICZ, Ph.D., M.B.A.
When it comes to getting medical treatment for FMS, you have got to sit down and buckle yourself firmly into the driver's seat. Because you are the leader on your, what I call, self and health optimization course (SHOC). You've got to put yourself in control of your decision making despite the fact that you won’t always be in total control of your symptoms. The fact is that with time, knowledge and appropriate treatment you'll have an increasing ability to have some impact on the severity and frequency of your symptoms.
Having a sense of control over your physical state seems to be related to actual improvement. In addition, feeling in control over this element is important as there are many aspects of the disability process that feel beyond your control. Having a sense of control and thus empowerment is important to balance this out.
The first decision you need to make is to educate yourself about FMS as much as possible. This will assist you in your subsequent treatment decisions and ability to cope with your changes in health. Research and learn as much from The Fibromyalgia Digest your computer, journal articles, books and other resources as you can manage.
Secondly, you must learn to listen to your body. When it tells you its tired, you rest. If it tells you a medication is making you feel worse, you inform your prescribing doctor immediately. If you do not feel better with treatment over several months and your doctor refuses to refer you to a specialist or vary treatment, it may be time for you to move on. Remember though, it's important in seeking disability that you have consistent, thorough medical records and a doctor who supports your case.
Third, in terms of your SHOC team, it is most likely you will have multiple doctors and health professionals. FMS is best treated holistically, mind and body, with a combination of Western and alternative techniques. Because of FMS' symptoms, people often first sought the care of rheumatologists (doctors who specialize in arthritis and conditions involving the muscles, bones and joints) for diagnosis and treatment. Importantly, for people applying for disability, the diagnostic (an average 5 years) and treatment phases of FMS may be briefer with a rheumatologist involved thus possibly shortening the entire lengthy process.
These days, other types of doctors and healthcare professionals may be well-versed in fibromyalgia. Remember that you are in charge and these others are involved to assist you along your SHOC. Your team may be composed of: general doctors, neurologists, pain management specialists, acupuncturists, psychologists, psychiatrists, osteopaths, gastroenterologists, neurologists, dietitians, allergists, and so on. The range is so wide because of the diversity of FMS symptomatology.
In addition, in choosing your doctor you must be careful to select one who believes in FMS as a true illness and is extremely knowledgeable about this disorder. Findings about FMS are increasingly fast and furious and your doctor must be at the forefront of knowledge about etiologies, courses, symptoms, prognoses, treatments and associated conditions. Ask your doctor about his or her specializations, the number of fibro cases treated, beliefs about the disorder and its treatment, willingness to refer to specialists and support your case, and the like.
Another important element of choosing a good doctor is to pay attention to how he or she makes you feel. Do you feel comfortable and significant when seeing the doctor? Does he or she take you seriously? Does he or she call or follow-up as was promised? How is his or her accessibility? Does the doctor express empathy for your pain and suffering? Does the doctor refer you to other healthcare professionals? Is the professional open to alternative medicine? If the answers to these questions are negatives, this individual does not belong on your SHOC team.
An integral part of the process is locating a quality SHOC member. To obtain this goal you must research, ask, listen, and network. We are so fortunate these days to have access to incredible amounts of information on the internet. You can locate doctors who specialize in fibromyalgia in your geographic region with just a few punches on the keyboard. If you do not have a computer, visit your local library. Below is a list of some valuable websites.
As you are educating yourself about fibromyalgia in general, you will come across certain names again and again. Search for these names and see where these individuals are located. Get yourself hooked up with the many fibromyalgia support networks and ask other members about their doctors. As you wait the many hours in doctors' offices, listen as others talk about doctors and treatments. Find out about local universities and hospitals and the doctors affiliated with them. Some doctors allow free consultations prior to establishing a professional relationship.
To check on your doctor's training and license, call the Federation of State Medical Boards: 817.868.4000. To find out if a specialist is board certified, call the American Board of Medical Specialties: 1.866.275.2627.
The following are some websites to locate good doctors, information, support, and assistance for caretakers:
- American Medical Association
- National Fibromyalgia Association www.FMaware.org
- American Chronic Pain Association www.theacpa.org/default.aspx
- American College of Rheumatology www.rheumatology.org
- American Academy of Pain Management www.aapainmanage.org
- Arthritis Foundation www.arthritis.org
- Doctors for Pain www.doctorsforpain.com
- Patient Alliance for Neuroendocrineimmune Disorders Organization for Research and Advocacy (P.A.N.D.O.R.A.) www.pandoranet.info/
- Google maps, type in city and "fibromyalgia doctors" or variations thereof
Finding a good doctor is central to your health and improvement, as well as to your social security case. The Fibro Digest, The Disability Digest, the above article, and the listed resources can all prove invaluable. Best of fortune on your self and health optimization course.
Thanks so very much for putting your faith in me to help you cope with Fibromyalgia and Disability!