Make the Team

With rheumatoid arthritis (RA), one of the first steps in the healing process is to establish a satisfying partnership with each member of your healthcare team—and especially with your rheumatologist.

These partnerships should be based on a back-and-forth flow of information: You talk about how you’re feeling and what you want out of treatment. And when your doctor talks to you about treatment options or lifestyle changes to consider, your job is to listen carefully and ask questions.

In 2002, Lyn S., 44, a successful chief financial officer in Dallas, was baffled by the onset of pain and stiffness across her body. “I had episodes during which I couldn’t lift my arm,” says the married mother of a teenage daughter. This was followed by severe foot pain and months of steroid injections in her toe joints. Then the pain spread to her hands.

The road to recovery

In September 2007, Lyn was finally diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Having a diagnosis meant she could work with doctors to find the right treatment. However, she had an uphill climb. “One of my lowest points was when my parents came over and vacuumed my floors,” she says. “You ask yourself, ‘What does the rest of my life hold?’”

Lyn chose to fight her RA. She began working closely with her rheumatologist to find a treatment that would help. “It required some trial and error to find the right medications,” she says. “But today I feel great.”

In part, Lyn credits her success to the relationship she has developed with her rheumatologist. “He takes my concerns seriously,” she says. “I told him that I love him because he gave me back my life, and he just smiled.”

Continued

Updated November 2012

Basics
Overview
Causes & Risk Factors
Symptoms
Diagnosis
Your Healthcare Team
Questions to Ask Your Doctor

Treatment
Examining Your Treatment Options
PT, OT or Surgery?
Make the Team
A Doctor's Perspective: The Inside Scoop on RA
Team Up with Your Doctor to Feel Better
Why RA Tests Matter

 

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