Most patients living with psoriatic arthritis require regular visits to a rheumatologist to help them monitor their symptoms and ensure that their medication is still working effectively.
Being prepared for these visits can help you get the most out of your doctor’s appointment and make a world of difference in the management of your psoriatic arthritis.
“Being prepared for your appointment gives it a structure,“ Guillermo J. Valenzuela, MD, president and CEO of Integral Rheumatology and Immunology Specialists and IRIS Research and Development in Plantation, Florida tells Everyday Health. “So there’s a more productive result and it avoids a situation where the patient has to call back with dozens of questions.”
Here’s how to prepare for your next appointment with your rheumatologist:
1. Keep a Journal of Your Symptoms
As a psoriatic arthritis patient, you probably know that pain and inflammation can alternate with periods of remission. What’s more, your symptoms can worsen as you age. This is where journaling your symptoms can come in handy.
Having a written record of your symptoms helps your rheumatologist get a better picture of your health and what you need for treatment, Dr. Valenzuela notes. Valenzuela typically looks for more than just a pain history from his patients to get a clear view of the best way to treat them. When journaling, he advises including the following, according to Everyday Health:
- A record of pain and inflammation. Not every day is the same for people with psoriatic arthritis.
- A daily accounting of your diet, especially when you have a flare-up. The foods you eat can have an impact on your condition.
- Comorbidities you may be diagnosed with. People with psoriatic arthritis are prone to certain illnesses such as gout, hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes. Knowing and sharing the details of your medical history is very important, Valenzuela says.
- A list of any additional symptoms such as dizziness, chest pain, or vision problems that could suggest a developing comorbidity. “Because we are aware of the comorbidities, we find ourselves being the primary physicians. So we check lipids, sugar, cholesterol, and metabolic issues,” Valenzuela adds. Knowing other symptoms can give your rheumatologist clues to any other underlying issues.
- Details of any events that were out of the ordinary, such as a bout of insomnia or physical injury, which could impact your psoriatic arthritis.
2. Maintain a Record of Medications and Supplements You’re Taking
What medications are you currently taking? What are their doses? Are you taking any over-the-counter supplements, such as multivitamins and anti-inflammatory supplements such as curcumin or turmeric? Your doctor needs to know all of this to make sure there aren’t any interactions between any new psoriatic arthritis treatments and the medications or supplements you’re already taking.
“Sometimes patients will withhold this information because they feel they’re doing something their doctor won’t approve of,” Valenzuela says of supplements. “It’s good to be transparent with your doctor.”
3. Bring a Recording Device
Rheumatologist appointments can often bring an overload of information, including education, the latest findings regarding