How Do I Choose the Best Rheumatoid Arthritis Specialist?

Erin J. Hill

Most patients find their rheumatoid arthritis specialist, also called a rheumatologist, by asking their general health practitioner or another healthcare provider for recommendations. You may also find local doctors by speaking with family members or friends who have a similar condition or by calling around to various numbers you find in your phone directory. Choices may be limited depending on your health insurance provider or by your location since not all areas will have a wide range of specialists available.

Arthritis specialists may offer free consultations that enable patients to get to know the doctor and facility.
Arthritis specialists may offer free consultations that enable patients to get to know the doctor and facility.

The first thing to check into when choosing a rheumatoid arthritis specialist is your insurance coverage. You may have a list of required or preferred doctors to choose from, so this might limit your options tremendously. If this is the case, check the list of names or practices and call around to find the one you need. Those who don't have insurance restrictions should get names from their general practitioner or family doctor, or they may call the local hospital for local specialists. If these resources turn up no results, then a local phone directory will also work.

Rheumatoid arthritis causes chronic inflammation of the joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis causes chronic inflammation of the joints.

Have a list of questions handy when you call around to different practices. By finding out as much information as you can over the phone, you will avoid making unnecessary trips to visit doctors who are not a good fit for you. Questions you may consider asking may be about the types of insurance the doctor accepts, the exact location of their offices, the number of physicians available in a single practice, and whether or not you will be able to see the same rheumatoid arthritis specialist at each visit. You should also ask those you are interested in if they offer a free consultation visit so you can get to know the doctor and the facilities.

Once you go in for a consultation with each rheumatoid arthritis specialist, make sure you have additional questions to ask during that time. These may include questions about your specific condition and past treatments as well as potential treatments you may need in the future. You should also spend time touring the offices, getting to know the staff, and determining whether or not you feel comfortable amongst them. If you aren't comfortable with your rheumatoid arthritis specialist, you may be less likely to follow through with treatment, or you may have a harder time coping with your condition. Ideally, your doctor should listen attentively and take your concerns and questions seriously.

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