Finding the right doctor for fibromyalgia can be a challenge. Not all doctors understand fibromyalgia, and some may not take your condition seriously.
Of course, you want to find someone who understands your condition and can help you manage it. But how do you know which type of doctor to go to?
In this blog post, I'll share some insights on the different types of doctors that can help treat your fibromyalgia symptoms and how to narrow down the choice. Keep reading to learn more!
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One of the most significant challenges people with fibromyalgia face is access to appropriate medical consultation and adequate treatment.
Although more than 10 million Americans live with fibromyalgia, according to health.com, 25% of people with fibromyalgia feel that their doctor doesn't consider their condition "very legitimate."
Read more ► Is Fibromyalgia Real?
Not all primary care doctors are well-equipped with a vast knowledge of fibromyalgia or have experience treating fibromyalgia. As a result, you may be dissatisfied with the care you receive and feel left without strategies for fibromyalgia symptom relief.
If you think you're not getting your needs met by your doctor, consider finding another doctor, or more than one doctor, to manage your fibromyalgia symptoms.
Here are some healthcare practitioners to consider:
Board-certified rheumatologists practice western medicine and are perhaps the best specialist to visit if you think you have fibromyalgia but don't yet have a diagnosis.
They are doctors who deal with rheumatic diseases, from rheumatoid arthritis to numerous autoimmune disorders.
Rheumatologists are often the best doctor to diagnose fibromyalgia. But, first, they will order blood tests and possibly X-rays and scans to rule out rheumatic diseases.
A rheumatologist that suspects fibromyalgia will want to perform a physical examination, during which they will check your body for tender points.
They may also recommend medications to help relieve various fibromyalgia symptoms following diagnosis.
Some rheumatologists will also give you stress relief and exercise prescriptions to lower your symptoms' intensity.
Rheumatologists are generally in high demand, and appointments are limited in availability. They may also not spend time listening to your concerns and educating you on the disease.
However, if you are a firm believer in Western medicine, this is the type of doctor you will want to try to get in to see.
Neurologists can help rule out any neurological condition causing your symptoms and may diagnose fibromyalgia.
Even if you already have a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, you may want to see a neurologist for treatment and management of symptoms.
Neurologists diagnose and treat symptoms including, but not limited to, headaches, migraines, brain fog, other pain issues, tingling, "pins and needles", or burning sensation in your hands and feet.
A way to help control your fibromyalgia pain is by researching pain and pain management options and seeking a referral to a pain specialist who knows how to treat pain effectively.
Pain specialists or pain management doctors focus on evaluating, treating, and rehabilitating people in pain.
Some pain specialists work with one therapy, while others offer various treatments, ranging from medication management and physical therapy to advanced therapies like lignocaine infusions.
Once you've found a pain physician, there are several steps you can take to prepare for your visit:
First, check that the pain provider is in your insurance network.
Second, find out if the pain clinic requires a referral.
Third, get a free pain indicator chart form to create and print a "map" of your pain.
Finally, gather your medical records for your visit.
"The best advice I have for other pain suffers to seek specialized help," said Michelle Revello, a chronic pain sufferer treated effectively by a pain management specialist.
"We all call-in expert help for trivial household inconveniences like a leaky sink. We should all do the same for our bodies."
Because people with fibromyalgia often suffer from anxiety and depression, it might be a good idea to seek the advice of a good psychotherapist who will listen to your concerns and help you cope better with your condition. You can see the psychotherapist along with other doctors for fibromyalgia for a truly holistic approach.
A holistic doctor is another doctor who often treats fibromyalgia pain. They can be trained in Western medicine and come from several different specialties.
For example, they may be osteopaths or MDs or have naturopathic medicine degrees.
Many people are drawn to holistic doctors because they look at an array of factors affecting your overall health; physical symptoms and emotional symptoms, lifestyle factors, and other factors to treat your condition.
Holistic doctors endeavor to spend a lot of time with you, asking questions about your symptoms, lifestyle, spiritual beliefs, emotional symptoms, and relationships.
They see that many things play into a medical condition's total experience and consider them when deciding on your treatment.
Holistic doctors use a variety of treatments besides western medications. They may recommend specific exercises, lifestyle changes, homeopathy, acupuncture, herbalism, chiropractic care, and spiritual interventions to help relieve some of your symptoms.
Holistic doctors are an excellent option for fibromyalgia consultation. They practice both conventional medicines, are educated, and have experience with alternative therapies.
If you have irritable bowel symptoms as one of your fibromyalgia symptoms, you may see a gastroenterologist specializing in gastrointestinal disorders.
A gastroenterologist may give you dietary recommendations and prescribe medications that can ease stomach pain, cramps, and diarrhea so familiar to people with symptoms of fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome.
Gastroenterologists also test for lactose intolerance and celiac disease and offer treatment and diet advice.
It is not unusual to access a variety of specialists in the process of diagnosis and finding the right treatment plan for your specific fibromyalgia symptoms.
In addition, to manage your fibromyalgia symptoms, you may consider incorporating allied health professionals, such as massage therapists, psychologists, physiotherapists, and nutritionists.
With some research, you can find a knowledgeable, compassionate doctor who can help you manage your symptoms. Here's how:
1. Check fibromyalgia associations and support groups in your area.
These organizations usually have lists of doctors who are familiar with the condition and its treatment. You can also ask other people living with fibromyalgia for recommendations.
2. Call around
When you've narrowed your list of potential doctors, call their offices and ask if they have experience treating patients with fibromyalgia. Also, be sure to ask about their approach to treatment; you want a doctor who is open to exploring different options, such as medication, massage, acupuncture, etc.
3. Schedule consultations
Once you've found a few doctors who might be a good fit, schedule consultations with each one, it will give you a chance to discuss your symptoms and concerns in more detail and to get a better sense of the doctor's bedside manner. Also, ask for a better understanding of pain medication prescription renewals, office visit frequency, etc.
It can help the doctor get a personalized picture of your daily symptoms if you keep a record of the symptoms you are experiencing. Your journal might include the following:
Where your pain is located
What is your pain like
The severity of the pain
How long the pain lasts
Other non-pain-related symptoms
4. Reflect on your consultations
After meeting with the doctors on your list, reflect before making your final decision. Which doctor made you feel the most comfortable? Which one seemed the most knowledgeable and eager to help? The answer to these questions will help you choose the right doctor.
Living with fibromyalgia can be challenging, but finding the right doctor doesn't have to be. By doing your research and taking your time, you can find a physician who is knowledgeable about the condition and its treatment and is committed to helping you manage your symptoms. And that's half the battle!
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
Fibromyalgia can be incredibly isolating, so seeking a support group is essential. Many hospitals, clinics, and community centers offer support groups for those who deal with chronic pain.
You may even find groups specifically for people with fibromyalgia. You can learn from others in similar situations and get tips for coping with pain and other symptoms you may not know about.
You can also share your feelings about your situation with those who understand what you have been going through and find comfort in the support you receive and give. You may prefer finding an online support group on social media, such as Facebook.
Fibromyalgia doesn't have to mean you are at the end of a productive life. People with fibromyalgia find ways to be gainfully employed and carry on with successful relationships despite their pain and other symptoms.