Talking with Your Healthcare Provider about Fibromyalgia
Whether you have fibromyalgia or think you might have it, it’s likely that you have a lot of questions. And if you do have fibromyalgia, you need relief so that you can get back to doing the things you need to do.
Your healthcare provider or physician wants to help you get back to feeling more like your healthy self. Expressing your needs clearly and asking the right questions can help you get the best care possible.
It’s important to understand that your appointment will not resolve all of your problems right away. Remember, too, that a healthcare provider’s schedule is very busy and time can be limited. Come prepared for each appointment – this will help you more clearly communicate your needs in an organized and timely fashion.
Talking to your healthcare provider can sometimes seem difficult, and occasionally can be frustrating. Here are some suggestions to help you talk to your doctor about fibromyalgia:
- Make sure you understand what your healthcare provider says – if you don’t understand something, ask for more information. Fibromyalgia can be a complex disease, and it’s important that you understand everything your healthcare provider says
- Ask your healthcare provider to use different words or a picture to explain things that are unclear about fibromyalgia. Or bring along a trusted friend or family member who can help you
- Answer your healthcare provider’s questions clearly, briefly, and completely. You and your healthcare provider will want to keep your discussion focused on your fibromyalgia and the facts that will help you both understand your fibromyalgia symptoms and how to make you feel better
- Don’t hide anything – be honest about your lifestyle habits (such as the amount you smoke, drink, or exercise). If your healthcare provider asks about your lifestyle, it’s not to judge you. Your honest answers will help protect your health and help your healthcare provider develop a plan that will best meet your needs
- Make a list of all medications you are taking (including over-the-counter or herbal remedies), and bring this list with you to your healthcare professional
If you know you have fibromyalgia
- Your fibromyalgia doctor will work with you to develop or adjust a plan to help you better manage your condition
- If you have already started treatment, your fibromyalgia physician will want to know whether this plan is meeting your goals
- If it is not, he or she will try to work with you to adjust the plan to meet your needs
Ask your doctor some questions of your own about fibromyalgia
- What is causing my symptoms? How do you know I have fibromyalgia? What caused it?
- Do I need tests, such as X-rays or blood tests? Why or why not?
- Can you diagnose and treat me, or will I need to see a specialist?
- Along with medication, what else can help?
- What kind of treatment do you recommend?
- What kind of relief can I expect from this treatment?
- If the treatment includes medication, what side effects can I expect?
- Will this medicine interact with other medicines I take?
- Is there anything I should avoid while taking this medicine?
- Can I schedule a follow-up visit? When?
"I always go to the doctor with lists of questions ..."
"I keep a daily journal with an overall summary of what my pain level has been like, what activities I've done, for each day..."
"Before you even go to a doctor, you should call around and ask the staff if the doctor has many patients with fibromyalgia and if he or she treats it..."