Finding the Best Doctor

Locating a good doctor is important for people with fibromyalgia. Dealing with the medical profession can be stressful, confusing, and time-consuming, which can exacerbate the pain you're already experiencing. A good doctor can make all the difference in how you fare, so choose carefully and deliberately.

Studies have shown that the best form of care for fibromyalgia patients is a multidisciplinary program incorporating several different forms of care in one clinic. At this time, there are very few multidisciplinary fibromyalgia clinics in the United States. But if there is one in your area, you should definitely check it out.

Where to Find a Doctor

In an era of managed health care, insurance companies often dictate the doctors we see. After all, few of us can afford to pay for health care that isn't covered by an insurance plan. The good news is that most plans today have numerous doctors, even in subspecialties. But in reality, a name on a list tells you very little about the doctor.

Essential

Looking for a physician in your area? Check out the American Medical Association's Physician Select at http://dbapps.ama-assn.org and enter your state and zip code. The site also tells you where the doctor went for medical school, where he did his residency, and whether he's certified in his specialty. You may also find a physician through the National Fibromyalgia Association at www.fmaware.org.

To locate a primary care doctor, ask friends, neighbors, colleagues, and family for recommendations. Talk to people who have fibromyalgia and find out who they see. An excellent source is a support group. Members have experience with health-care providers in your area and can guide you to those who are “fibro-friendly.”

When you need a specialist, you may get a name from your primary doctor, which is sometimes good enough. But if you don't like the doctor, check around with friends and family again, or go back to your primary doctor for another recommendation.

Interview the Doctor

Whether you're selecting a primary care doctor or another healthcare specialist, it's important to do some research before deciding to go to a physician on a regular basis. Even if the doctor comes to you as a recommendation from your best friend, you may find him unsuitable in ways that don't bother your friend. Ideally, you should take time to meet the doctor and do your own assessment or interview.

Some good questions to ask yourself and the doctor include the following:

  • Does the physician specialize in the treatment of FMS?

  • Does he already have patients with fibromyalgia?

  • What kinds of alliances does the physician have with other health-care professionals or hospitals?

  • Are there other people in his practice who can assist in your care?

  • What kind of health insurance does the doctor accept?

  • What kind of communication skills does the physician have? Do you feel comfortable in his presence?

  • Would it upset the doctor if you sought a second opinion?

  • What does the doctor think of alternative therapies?

  • Does he listen to what you say and answer your questions in words that you understand? Does he call back when you need assistance or information?

  • How convenient is the office to your home or workplace?

Don't underestimate the importance of the office support staff. Schedulers, nurses, and assistants who are courteous and respectful can make a big difference in how well you do with your doctor. A bad encounter or stressful office visits can cause undue stress, which will only worsen your fibromyalgia symptoms.

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