Finding Your Ideal Rheumatologist

Everyone should have a rheumatologist, a pivotal medical expert specializing in axial spondyloarthritis (AxSpa). They're the ones who master the complexities of the condition. However, the truth is, the quality of rheumatologists varies widely. There are exceptional ones, and there are those who fall short.

What we desire is a rheumatologist who exceeds expectations, but distinguishing the proficient from the mediocre can be challenging.

Drawing from my three decades of managing spondylitis, I'll share some insights on selecting the right rheumatologist for you.

Prioritize recognized excellence

When evaluating a doctor, checking their star rating might seem obvious. Yet, it's surprising how often people, including me, overlook this step when options are scarce.

Even when choices are limited, don't disregard a rheumatologist's rating. Let me share an experience that illustrates this point.

I once switched from an adequate, albeit tardy, rheumatologist to one who was conveniently located and promptly available. Ignoring her one-star rating seemed inconsequential to me, given my 20 years of patient experience, I thought all I really needed was a prescription writer. However, within moments of my initial visit, I regretted my decision.

Her disinterest was palpable from the start. Unfamiliar with my history, she immediately dismissed my diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis, proposing fibromyalgia instead, based on a flawed understanding.

She told me “If you had ankylosing spondylitis, you would be in a wheelchair.” I found this belief troubling.

A subsequent glance at her Google reviews revealed complaints about her dismissiveness and rudeness. A lesson learned: pay attention to those reviews.

Review hospital connections

The hospital linked with a rheumatologist can reveal much about their professional reputation. Hospitals are strict about who gets privileges because they want only doctors who match their quality criteria. Plus, if you end up needing a hospital stay, it's better to have a doctor who's already in sync with that hospital's team and what they offer.

Look at their treatment style

How a rheumatologist works out a diagnosis and decides on treatment can really shape your healthcare experience. Some may opt for bold treatment steps, while others prefer playing it safe. It's key to choose a rheumatologist who treats patients in a way that you're comfortable with and that suits what you're looking for.

Check how easy it is to get there

A detail often overlooked is how easy it is to get to the rheumatologist's office. Think about how close they are to your home or job, if there's parking or public transport nearby, and if it all fits into your daily routine. Also, make sure their office hours work for you and ask if they offer telehealth options for times when you can't make it in person.

Make your decision

After doing your due diligence, you should have all the information necessary to make an informed decision. Remember that you are the most important advocate for your health, and finding the right rheumatologist can make a significant difference in the quality of your care.

By following this advice, you can embark on your journey with confidence, knowing that you have selected a rheumatologist who will be a compassionate and knowledgeable partner in managing your AxSpa. Remember that it's okay to change doctors if your needs are not being met or if you feel that the partnership is not a good fit.

Your health and well-being always come first.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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