Doctor’s appointments are a fact of life for people living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) – so you have to make them count. They’re the best time to tell your physician how you’re feeling, whether or not you think your treatment is working and any other concerns you may be having about your symptoms.
It’s no wonder then how frustrated (or downright discouraged) you probably feel when it seems like those questions, concerns and complaints are falling on deaf ears.
And unfortunately, research suggests than many RA sufferers are experiencing this same frustration.
Doctors’ Appointments Leave Many Feeling Unheard
In one small study presented at an American College of Rheumatology annual meeting, researchers interviewed twenty people aged 38 to 85 who had been diagnosed with RA, and who viewed their RA as much worse than their doctor did. The interviews revealed that many of the RA patients felt that their doctors weren’t listening to them, weren’t empathetic to their concerns and that they rushed through appointments.
A larger study by the American Autoimmune Disease Related Disease Association (AARDA) looked at over 7,800 men and women with autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. Ninety-eight percent of people in the study reported having fatigue, with 89% saying it was a “major issue,” and 68% saying it interfered with their day-to-day tasks. In fact, the study found that fatigue impacted nearly every aspect of their lives.
Despite this overwhelming mental and physical toll, though, 59% said their doctors didn’t prescribe them any medication or recommend any other treatments.
Don’t Be Afraid to Speak Up
Both studies shine a spotlight on the frustration that many people living with RA and other autoimmune conditions feel when trying to talk to their doctor. And over time, this breakdown in communication can negatively affect the treatment and management of your RA. That’s why it’s critical for you to speak up when you aren’t happy with your care.
To get the most out of your doctor visits, and get some additional peace of mind, try these strategies:
For more tips, check out the Rheumatoid Arthritis Doctor Visit Guide.