Medicine Information

The 7 Most Dangerous Mistakes You Can Make When You See a Doctor for Arthritis!

1. Seeing a doctor who's not board-certified or a doctor who isn't really an arthritis specialist. A lot of doctors will tell you they're "board-eligible." That's nonsense! What "board-eligible" means is that they did the training for the specialty but either haven't taken or- heaven forbid- failed the examination for board-certification. Don't trust your health to one of those doctors. And worse yet, some specialists don't pass on the first attempt. They keep taking the board exam over and over in the hopes they'll finally pass. Ask the doctor how many times it took them. Would you rather see somebody who passed the first time or some idiot who took three and four times to pass?

Are they American trained? While some specialists have completed a residency or fellowship in the U.S., they've gotten their medical degree elsewhere. The medical schools overseas do not compare to the medical schools in the United States.

How long have they been practicing? It takes a good ten years or longer of real world experience to really be able to take good care of patients.

And are they specialists in the field of arthritis (rheumatology)? Orthopedic surgeons claim to be able to take care of arthritis. But they're not rheumatologists. They haven't received formal training in the medications used to treat arthritis. They don't know about the newest developments in the field of arthritis. They don't know about the side effects and about proper monitoring techniques for medications. They're trained to cut and to operate. Why should they want to stop arthritis from destroying your joints? Since they are surgeons, they can always do surgery and replace your joints. Having an orthopedic surgeon take care of your arthritis is like putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop.

2. Waiting too long to be seen. Arthritis causes the most damage in the first six months. That's a fact from the Arthritis Foundation. It you have to wait a couple of months just to see a doctor... guess what... the cat is out of the bag. Damage has already been done. You can't afford to wait. And if you're thinking, "Well, this doctor participates in my insurance..." Is that really a good reason to risk crippling and loss of independence? Participating in managed care is bad for your health. Insurance companies, not the doctor, dictate what kind of care you receive. Think about it?do you really think insurance company executives stay up at night worrying about your arthritis? Is that really good for you?

3. Rude staff and doctor. If you can't get along with the staff and doctor, do you think your arthritis is going to take top priority? No way!!! Look for a practice where they treat you the way you want to be treated. Like a real human being.

4. Doctor rushes. Hey... you're paying good money. Make sure the doctor knows what you're there for and what is worrying you. Are your calls returned? Do they schedule timely follow-up visits? Are they interested in you as a whole person ... or are you just a number... a body part. Are they open-minded about alternative treatments? Do you feel comfortable discussing them?

5. They don't care if you're educated or not. You have to know about your disease and the medicines you're being treated with. You've got to know about the side-effects and what type of follow-up is needed. These are your rights! And do these doctors know their P's and Q's? Have they done clinical research? What kind of reputation do they have in their field? Are they recognized as a leader in the field of arthritis? Do you want to see a leader or a follower?

And that goes double for proper follow through. If the doctor and his staff drop the ball, you could be in for a bad time. Not only is the disease going to cause problems but the medicines need to be monitored carefully. You've got to be seen on a regular basis!!! And what if the doctor is a medication freak? He or she gives you a medicine and that's the end of it. And you go back and you get another medicine... and then another without any explanation. You deserve better.

6. Your doctor doesn't refer. If you're seeing a primary care doctor for your arthritis and you're not getting any better and he'/she doesn't refer, you're making a big mistake. Remember... the damage is done in the first six months of disease. It's important to be seen by a specialist as early as possible! The amount of medical information a doctor has to know has increased 20 times since 1950. Can you really expect a family doctor or internist to know about the latest developments on arthritis? Remember...arthritis causes most of its damage in the first six months. You've got to get the right treatment early!!!!!

7. Not getting a diagnosis. This is key. You need to know what you have and what can be done. There are always many treatment options available!

Dr. Wei (pronounced "way") is a board-certified rheumatologist and Clinical Director of the nationally respected Arthritis and Osteoporosis Center of Maryland. He is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and has served as a consultant to the Arthritis Branch of the National Institutes of Health. He is a Fellow of the American College of Rheumatology and the American College of Physicians. For more information on arthritis and related conditions, go to:

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