Now that you’ve made your first appointment to see a rheumatologist, you’re probably a little nervous and don’t know exactly what to expect. The good news is, you’ve taken the first step toward diagnosis and treatment that can drastically improve your quality of life. 

Working Toward a Diagnosis

Since many rheumatologic and autoimmune health conditions share similar symptoms, your rheumatologist needs to gather as much information as possible to diagnose your specific illness. At your first appointment, you can expect a thorough physical exam, especially of your joints, skin, heart, and lungs. Depending on your symptoms, your rheumatologist might also order blood or urine tests, x-rays, ultrasounds, or MRIs. 

In addition to the physical exam, tests, and imaging, your rheumatologist will also ask you detailed questions about your symptoms, your medical history, your diet, your lifestyle, your family history, and more. Even if some of the questions don’t seem directly related to your health issues, your rheumatologist is developing a holistic view of you and your health to better customize your care. 

How should you prepare for your first appointment?

There are several things you can do before and during your first appointment to get the most out of your time with your rheumatologist. 

Take detailed notes beforehand

Before your appointment, sit down and think through your symptoms. Any information you can provide will help create a clearer picture of your health issues. Some specific details to include, if possible:

  • When did your symptoms begin?
  • What type of pain did you experience? (Throbbing, pulsing, dull, ache, etc.)
  • Where was the pain? (i.e., was it localized or widespread?)
  • How long did the symptoms last?
  • What medications are you taking?
  • Did you notice anything specific that triggered your symptoms? (e.g., food, physical activity, time of day, etc.)

In addition to this information, if you have any testing or imaging results from other doctors’ appointments that might be relevant, it would be helpful to bring copies of those as well.

Ask questions during your appointment

Your rheumatologist will be asking you a lot of questions during your appointment, but it’s important for you to gather information as well. For instance, many patients want to know if there are over-the-counter vitamins or supplements that might be effective. If you’re planning to get pregnant, you might ask about how certain medications or activity restrictions might affect the pregnancy. Be sure you understand any guidance your rheumatologist gives you about your diet, medications, physical therapy, activity modifications, and follow-up appointments before you leave. Writing down questions beforehand and taking notes during your appointment can be very helpful. 

Make your first appointment today!

If you’re struggling with symptoms of a rheumatologic or autoimmune disease, working with a rheumatologist can help you live a fuller life. The experts at Advanced Rheumatology of Houston specialize in diagnosing and treating many of these conditions, including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, vasculitis, osteoporosis and more. Haven’t seen a rheumatologist yet? Don’t wait. Call us at (281) 766-7886 to schedule an appointment today to start your journey toward better health.