You are supposed to see your rheumatologist regularly if you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Scheduled appointments with rheumatologists allow the two of you to monitor the progress of your disease, identify triggers, track flares, and adjust medications accordingly. You should also take the time to report any lifestyle modifications such as an increase in exercise or dietary changes to your doctor.
Between your scheduled appointments, chances are there that there may also be times when you need to see your rheumatologist more urgently. Here are seven reasons you should pick up the phone and ask for your appointment to be scheduled sooner rather than later.
When You Experience a Flare
“An office visit may be needed when someone experiences a flare of their RA,” says Nathan Wei, MD, who practices at the Arthritis Treatment Center in Frederick, Maryland. When the inflammation of the disease flares up, the problem becomes more than painful which can lead to permanent joint damage and deformity.
Each person with RA has unique flare severity and symptoms. As time passes and as you consistently meet with your doctor during flares, both of you can determine the treatment approaches that can work best for you.
When You Have Pain in a New Location
RA primarily strikes joints that cause redness, swelling, heat and pain. It also can cause pain elsewhere in your body. The autoimmune malfunction can attack the tissues of your mouth and eyes that can cause an inflammation of blood vessels. RA attacks the tissue around the lungs and heart very rarely.
If your eyes or mouth become dry and uncomfortable, or you begin to develop a skin rash, you would most probably be experiencing an expansion of RA symptoms. Make an appointment with your rheumatologist and ask for an assessment at the earliest.
When You Had a Change In Sleep or Eating Habits
It can be difficult to get a good night’s rest when you have RA. A particular sleeping position can be comfortable for affected joints, but not for other body parts. New pain or joint heat can wake you up. In addition to this, eating can also pose special challenges. Some RA medicines might also affect your appetite, causing weight gain or nausea that prevents you from eating food.
If you notice you’re sleeping less or changing how and when you eat, it is time to see your doctor. It’s important to learn if changes in sleep and eating are related to some of RA’s most devious effects like depression and anxiety. Your doctor can talk to you about lifestyle changes and medications that could help you with the problem.