Why is it hard to talk with my doctor about my fibromyalgia?

Mihaela B. Taylor, MD
Rheumatology
Doctors should not dismiss fibromyalgia, saying that they don't believe in it. Fibromyalgia is not a religion to believe or not believe in. Even though the symptoms can be vague and hard to diagnose, fibromyalgia is a recognized medical condition. If your doctor cannot find any other reason for your symptoms but does not believe in fibromyalgia, you may want to either educate your doctor or find a new one.
Dawn Marcus
Neurology
People with fibromyalgia have two problems that can make a conversation with their physicians difficult: first, most doctor visits are short; and second, your doctor may not understand how disabling fibromyalgia can be. Organizing the time you have with your doctor and helping him by prioritizing the issues you want to discuss during each visit can make your time together more productive.

If you feel as if your doctor is rushing you through your appointment and out the door, you're not alone. The average doctor's visit now lasts only about 20 minutes. While this may be enough time to review how to manage blood pressure, it's probably too short to handle several health issues adequately. If you try to talk about pain, poor sleep, and bowel issues, your doctor will probably become a bit uncomfortable, knowing there's not enough time to cover everything. It's not just the American system that's to blame -- the average doctor visit in Europe lasts 10 minutes, and in Japan, only 6 minutes.

Do most physicians consider fibromyalgia a significant medical condition? When you try to talk to your doctor about your symptoms, do you get the sense that he's really not listening and would rather hear about something else? This reaction is not just because of you -- and unfortunately it's not unique to your doctor. In a recent study, doctors were asked to rank the status they gave to 38 common medical conditions, including fibromyalgia, based on the standing they believed that each held among doctors. The health issues awarded the highest status included myocardial infarction (heart attack), leukemia, spleen rupture, brain tumor, pulmonary embolism, testicular cancer, and angina. Fibromyalgia was last on the list of 38. So, you may be right if you think your doctor does not understand that fibromyalgia is important. As a person who has the disease, you are an important resource in helping to educate your doctor about the significant impact that fibromyalgia can have. If she is not comfortable managing your fibromyalgia, look for someone who is.
The Woman's Fibromyalgia Toolkit: Manage Your Symptoms and Take Control of Your Life

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The Woman's Fibromyalgia Toolkit: Manage Your Symptoms and Take Control of Your Life

The Woman's Fibromyalgia Toolkit tells readers what they need to know to take control of fibromyalgia symptoms. It includes step-by-step instructions for using effective non-drug treatments,...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.