Finding good fibromyalgia care can be difficult and frustrating. Many fibromyalgia patients go through numerous health care providers before finding one that finally meets their needs. In fact, most fibromyalgia sufferers will see between 5 and 8 different health care providers in the 4 years following their initial diagnosis. Because fibromyalgia is a chronic condition, it is necessary to find a health care provider who can offer you ongoing support, quality treatment, and good medical care. Here are some tips on how to find the best care possible for your fibromyalgia.
Know Your Rights
The first step to finding quality care for your fibromyalgia symptoms is to become acquainted with your rights as a patient. As a patient, you deserve top medical care. You are also entitled to treatment that is unbiased, non-judgmental, and effective. Unfortunately, because fibromyalgia cannot be diagnosed through concrete lab tests, some doctors fail to understand that it is a true physical condition. You may come across doctors or other health care providers who brush off your explanations about your widespread pain and fatigue, maintaining that it is “all in your head”. If you find that your health care provider is treating you in this way, assert your rights. It is important that you find a health care provider who takes your condition seriously, and treats you with respect and dignity.
Do Your Fibromyalgia Research
Take the time to do your own fibromyalgia research. This illness is happening to you, and by knowing as much as you can about fibromyalgia treatments and symptoms you will make big strides in taking control of you own health. Information on fibromyalgia is becoming more widely available, especially on the Internet. Visit online chat rooms, discussion boards, and websites about fibromyalgia. Visit the library and check out books and periodicals about the syndrome. There are also numerous fibromyalgia associations, many of which publish their own newsletters. These newsletters are a rich source of up-to-date information on living with and treating fibromyalgia.
Share the information you find with your health care providers, friends, and family members. By encouraging others to become knowledgeable about fibromyalgia, you are ensuring that you will receive better care and understanding. Many physicians, for instance, are not familiar with fibromyalgia. If you have a doctor that you like, take the time to pass along information that you have learned about fibromyalgia. This will only help to improve the treatment and care that you receive.
Finding a Health Care Provider
It is your right to find doctors or health care providers who make you feel comfortable and who are knowledgeable about fibromyalgia. In order to find the best health care provider possible, there are a number of steps to consider:
- Decide what you value most in a health care provider. Is it empathy? Organization? Knowledge? Once you have decided what you need most, you can begin to choose a good health care provider.
- Choose what kind of health care provider you would like to see. There are a number of different types of health care professionals who can help treat your fibromyalgia, including physicians, naturopath doctors, chiropractors, and occupational therapists. You may decide to see more than one kind of health care provider.
- Make a list of all the possible health care providers in your area. Check their credentials to see if they are licensed or certified. Also check if they have had any malpractice lawsuits brought against them.
- Visit with or call each health care professional. Do a quick phone interview to see if they are right for you. Ask about their views on fibromyalgia and if they offer multi-disciplinary treatments.
- Be sure to investigate your insurance policy. You may not be covered for treatment from all types of health care providers. Knowing which services are covered may influence your final decision on the best doctor for you.
Where to Look for A Health Care Provider
When looking for a medical doctor, naturopath, or other type of health care professional, check out some of these resources.
- The phonebook – listings of different health care professionals are often a good starting off point to begin your search. Check the doctor directory.
- Fibromyalgia support groups – these groups have a list of all fibromyalgia specialists and other professionals who may be able to provide you with treatment.
- Your family doctor – your G.P. may be able to refer you to a doctor who specializes in pain medicine or chronic illnesses.
- Hospitals – many hospitals have specially trained fibromyalgia doctors, occupational therapists, and physical therapists.
- Comprehensive pain treatment centers – these facilities offer multi-disciplinary approaches to treating fibromyalgia, and may have just the health care provider you are looking for.
Warning Signs to Watch Out For
When you are looking for a health care provider, be on the lookout for certain warning signs that may indicate that she is not right for you. If your health care provider does not believe in fibromyalgia, or believes that fibromyalgia is the result of psychological complications, then stay away! In order to receive treatment, you a need a professional who understands the reality of your illness. If your health care provider has never treated someone with fibromyalgia, you may also want to consider finding someone with more experience in the area.
If your health care provider only offers one form of treatment, this could also pose a problem. Fibromyalgia requires a program based on a medications, alternative treatments, and self-care. Be on the lookout for health care providers who promise that they can cure you of your fibromyalgia. There is no cure for fibromyalgia, and you should be wary of anyone who promises you that they can end your illness.