It is different for every person, but most of my patients find it helpful to make a list of symptoms and questions as they think of them on their phones or in a notebook before coming to the office. When did the symptoms start? Is the pain always the same or does it get better or worse at times? Being prepared in advance helps ensure that when we meet, you don’t forget something that has been on your mind. Rheumatologists understand that patients and treatments vary. It is important for us to understand our patients, their symptoms, and their care.

Notes on your personal medical history, symptoms, family medical history, and a list of medications you are currently taking are critical for rheumatologists. You almost can’t provide too much information and background to a rheumatologist.

Many of my patients also read up on their condition, new treatments or lifestyle modifications before they come in. I always suggest they look for reputable sources like the one you’re on now – In this information age, not every website is credible and patients should always talk to their doctor before exploring any alternatative treatment or medical guidance avenues. Self-diagnosing and self-treating symptoms based on Internet websites can simply be dangerous to a patient and their treatment. Understanding your illness is beneficial, but talk with your rheumatologist before moving forward with any treatment or change in diet, supplements, medications, and treatments.

Finally, bringing a spouse or family member to the meeting can be helpful in taking notes and being a second set of ears for the conversation. A second person in the room can add value in terms of specifying symptoms and information for the doctor – and be a source of support in learning about the illness and treatment.

We understand that often times when you see us you are in pain and might not remember everything you want to talk about, that’s OK. You can call or send us a follow up message and we will get back to you.

Answered by Dr. Max Hamburger

Max I. Hamburger, M.D.

Dr. Hamburger is Founder and Executive Chairman of United Rheumatology LLC and Managing Partner of Rheumatology Associates of Long Island (RALI) as well as the President of the New York State Rheumatology Society. He served as Chief of Rheumatology at St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center from 1988 until 2006, and is Emeritus Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at SUNY Stony Brook since 1980. He has been the lead author or author of over 50 publications. He has been honored by the Arthritis Foundation for his service to the Long Island Community, receiving the Regina Quick Award for Medical Excellence.

About Ask the Doctor

CreakyJoints works to inform, support and empower patients with all forms of arthritis. To connect our members directly with rheumatologists at the forefront of community-based care, CreakyJoints is collaborating with United Rheumatology to provide direct answers to your rheumatoid-related questions about symptoms, illnesses, treatments and research.

United Rheumatology is the pre-eminent service organization optimizing the practice of independent rheumatologists on behalf of patients. United Rheumatology helps rheumatologists advance the standard of care, strengthen the doctor-patient relationship, and manage the challenges of preserving an independent rheumatology practice.

If you have a rheumatology-related question, let us know what it is, and it might get featured as an answer from United Rheumatology.