Fibromyalgia Doctors, Physicians – Who Treats Fibromyalgia?
Although you will have a variety of people on your team, your main physician will play a large role in your health care. When you first experience fibromyalgia symptoms, you might seek the help of a family physician, internist, OB-GYN, gastroenterologist, or psychologist. Some of these physicians are knowledgeable about fibromyalgia and might even evaluate your symptoms based on the criteria for diagnosis.
However, if you have experienced the symptoms of fibromyalgia, especially body-wide pain, fatigue, sleep disturbances, and cognitive difficulties, for several weeks or months, you need to get the opinion of a qualified rheumatologist who specifically treats people with fibromyalgia.
How to Find The Right Fibromyalgia Doctors:
Let’s start with a rheumatologist. A rheumatologist is an internist or paediatrician who has received an additional two to three years of training and experience in the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis and other diseases of the joints, muscles, and bones.
Although researchers believe that there is a neuroendocrine component to fibromyalgia, rheumatologists remain the most knowledgeable group of physicians to treat fibromyalgia, because of their experience in treating musculoskeletal pain disorders.
Rheumatologists work closely with their patients to identify the problem and design an individualised treatment program. Usually the rheumatologist works with other physicians but acts as the manager of your care.
Medical Professionals (Specialties)
Yes, your rheumatologist might be your lead health-care team member, but this specialty doctor might be only a part of your medical professional team. If you experience overlapping conditions such as migraine headaches, restless legs syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, you might want to consult with other specialists.
Following is a list of the many health-care team member options who your rheumatologist might suggest you consult with. These are only options. Carefully consider them so that you can decide who might be of help to you.
- Family practice physician. A family practice physician offers general medical care to people of all ages. Ongoing care includes preventative health care, as well as care for acute and chronic illness of all kinds, including fibromyalgia. Some family practice physicians have a lot of interest and knowledge in fibromyalgia.
- Neurologist. A neurologist is a board-certified medical doctor trained in the diagnosis and treatment of nervous system disorders, including diseases of the brain, spinal cord, nerves, and muscles.A neurologist performs neurological examinations of the nerves of the body; muscle strength, movement, and reflexes; balance and ambulation; and sensation, memory, speech, language, and other cognitive abilities. A neurologist also treats headaches, migraines, and restless legs syndrome.
- Gastroenterologist. A gastroenterologist is an internist who specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the digestive organs including the stomach, bowels, liver, and gallbladder. This specialist treats conditions such as abdominal pain, ulcers, diarrhoea and constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, and autoimmune diseases of the gut.
- Doctor of osteopathy. A doctor of osteopathy (D.O.) completes the same amount of medical education as an M.D. and must pass a state licensing examination. A D.O. can perform surgery, treat patients, and prescribe medications in both clinic and hospital settings. A D.O. brings an extra dimension to your health care as she looks at the total person.She is trained to perform osteopathic manipulations, a technique in which the D.O. uses her hands to diagnose illness and treat patients, giving special attention to the joints, bones, muscles, and nerves.
- Allergist-immunologist. An allergist-immunologist is trained in evaluating and managing disorders involving the immune system. Selected examples of such conditions include asthma, rhinitis, eczema, and adverse reactions to drugs, foods, and insect stings as well as immune-deficiency diseases.
- Pain-management specialist. A pain-management specialist is an anesthesiologist, neurologist, pediatric neurologist, physiatrist, or psychologist who provides a high level of care, either as a primary physician or consultant, for patients experiencing problems with acute and chronic pain, including cancer pain. Patient-care needs might also be coordinated with other specialists.
- Physiatrist. A physiatrist is an M.D. specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation (involving physical therapy administered by a physical therapist), who treats a wide range of problems from sore shoulders to spinal cord injuries. Those who specialize in physiatry, focus on restoring functions.
Fibromyalgia Healthcare Professionals:
Remember that health-care professionals who are not medical fibromyalgia doctors can also play an important role on your health-care team.
- Pharmacist. A pharmacist can assist you with questions about your prescriptions, drug interactions, and side effects. A compounding pharmacist goes beyond dispensing manufactured drugs.
- Nurse. Nurses are an extremely important part of your health-care team. Nurses have a wide range of skills and are usually in charge of implementing the care your doctor has set up for you. They are trained to administer medication and monitor side effects. Nurses are often aware of support services in your community and can usually provide you with educational materials and pamphlets.
- Physical therapist. A physical therapist provides patients with services that help them restore function, improve mobility, and relieve pain. He employs such modalities as stretching, muscle strengthening, range-of-motion exercises, heat/ice, electrical stimulation, ultrasound, traction, and mobilization.He works closely with a physiatrist. He can assist and help promote overall health fitness. A physical therapist tests and measures the patient’s strength, range of motion, balance and coordination, posture, muscle performance, respiration, and motor function.
- Registered dietitian. A registered dietitian must meet the rigorous academic requirements of the Commission on Dietetic Registration. They can assist you with your nutrition or food preparation/service needs.
- Acupuncturist. The requirements to practice acupuncture vary significantly worldwide. In Europe, for a person to legally practice acupuncture he or she must first be a medical doctor. In the United States there arc non-physicians who are licensed to practice.Acupuncture is commonly used to help ease headaches, arthritis, back and neck pain, soreness, nausea, sinus pain, insomnia, PMS or painful cramps, and a wide variety of other conditions. It is also effective in reducing stress and helping one to make constructive lifestyle changes.
- Massage therapist. A massage therapist is a professional practitioner who applies a series of manual therapeutic soft-tissue manipulations by applying pressure to the body with the intention of positively affecting the health and well-being of the client.
- Aquatic therapist. An aquatic therapist specializes in teaching or assisting with a variety of aquatic techniques, which allows the patient to move in a water environment. The buoyancy of the water allows for low-impact exercises to be performed without stress on the muscles and joints. Many people can perform exercises in water that they cannot do out of the water. Specialty aquatic techniques include the following:
- Ai Chi — A form of active aquatic therapy modeled after the principles of Tai Chi and yoga breathing techniques.
- Watsu — A form of passive aquatic therapy performed in a hands-on manner by the provider. The client is usually held or cradled in warm water while the provider stabilizes or moves one part of the person’s body, resulting in the stretching of another part of the body due to the drag effect.
- Occupational therapist. An occupational therapy practitioner is a professional whose education includes the study of human growth and development with an emphasis on the social, emotional, and physiological effects of illness and injury.An occupational therapist evaluates all facets of your life to help you find the skills for the job of living. Treatment programs are customized specifically to help you perform daily activities and give guidance to your family members.
Emotional Health—Care Professionals
Health-care professionals who specialize in mental health will ensure that your emotional needs are also being met. Even if you aren’t dealing with depression or some other mental health issue, people who are faced with lifestyle changes and chronic pain can often benefit from the care of this type of specialist:
- Psychologist. A psychologist is a Ph.D. who provides therapy and counseling if you are feeling sad, depressed, anxious, or stressed out. Moreover, an important function of a psychologist is also to help you cope with pain by using cognitive behavioral therapy. Although not medical doctors, psychologists have a doctoral degree in psychology and counseling and often specialize in marital counseling or chronic illness.
- Psychiatrist. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental, addictive, and emotional disorders. These doctors specialize in treating mood disorders, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and adjustment disorders. The psychiatrist is able to understand the biological, psychological, and social components of these illnesses, and treats the person as a whole.A psychiatrist can order diagnostic laboratory tests, prescribe medications, evaluate and treat psychological and interpersonal problems, and assist families who are coping with stress, crises, and other problems.
If you have expectations that your doctor is not able to meet, you will feel disillusioned and let down. Realistic expectations will help you know exactly what you can expect from your doctor.
What to Expect from Your Doctor:
The following is a list of things that your health-care professional can do for you:
- Your doctor can’t guarantee that a particular medication will work for you, but he or she can inform you of the reasons why they have recommended a specific medication and what they hope to accomplish by prescribing the drug.
- Follow-up appointments are designed to determine how you are progressing with specific treatments and to determine what needs immediate attention. For more complex problems, you should schedule a full consultation that will give you more time with the doctor.
- Your doctor can’t guarantee that emergencies won’t come up and you might have to reschedule an appointment, but he or she should be able to see you if you have a true emergency.
- Doctors can’t guarantee that your insurance will cover all of your medical needs, but they can be sensitive to the limitations of your insurance policy.
- Your doctor can’t promise to always agree with you or tell you what you want to hear, but they have a responsibility to “do you no harm.”
- Your doctor might not have all the answers, but they can refer you to other health-care professionals who can help you with specific problems.
- You can’t expect your doctor to be your friend, but you can expect them to treat you with respect and to listen to your concerns and requests.
Making the Most of Your Doctor Visit
After you have met with the fibromyalgia doctor, it is important to make use of the advice and help your doctor has offered. When you arrive home, review your notes, make sure that you understand the directions you have been given, and mark your next appointment on your calendar. If you would like copies of your test results, make arrangements with the doctor’s office staff when you check out from your appointment.
If your doctor wants you to start taking new fibromyalgia medications or is refilling your current prescriptions, make sure that you get to the pharmacy right away. If you are taking multiple medications, make sure that you write down what medicines you are to take daily, including how much and when.
An inexpensive plastic multi-day pillbox can help you remember when to take your medications. Make notes of any side effects you are experiencing and what type of response you are noticing from the prescribed treatment(s).
Keep in mind that even if there is a good reason for changing or stopping a treatment, you can unknowingly hurt yourself by not following your doctor’s directions. The best solution is to be honest with your doctor and find out whether there are any negative ramifications if you do not continue a treatment plan.
You might need to be weaned slowly off your medications, or you might he able to treat side effects with other fibromyalgia treatment options.
Don’t forget that even non-prescription treatments (herbs, vitamins, and other supplements) can interact and have adverse reactions with prescription medications. It is better to be safe than sorry—let you doctor know about everything you are taking!
A person with fibromyalgia sees her physician each month for more than a year. After much deliberation, she decides that she can no longer continue to work and must file for disability. This individual discusses the situation with her physician, who agrees with the patient’s decision and provides all the patient’s records to the correct administrative office.
Neither the patient, nor the health-care professional realized that there were multiple mistakes in the chart. A typist had misread the doctor’s notes and the chart’s cover letter noted that the patient only had 6 instead of 16 tender points.
A letter from a previous physician was included in the chart that stated the patient seemed “stressed” and that all laboratory tests were negative. The physician had noted in the chart a comment that the patient made during her first appointment, “I just don’t understand why I hurt all the time.
Everyone says there is nothing wrong with me, sometimes I don’t think I can go on!” And then, finally, because the patient had so many symptoms to report to her doctor, there were times he got so involved in their conversation that he didn’t note many of the important complaints.
The mistakes and misinterpretations in this chart will likely cause disability to be denied.
It is important to review all aspects of your medical chart, especially if it is being shared with an individual or organization that is making a decision that will effect your treatment or future. Even if you have a supportive physician, it is important to review everything written in your chart yourself.