Work With a Doctor to Manage Rheumatoid Arthritis

Do you see a rheumatologist for your rheumatoid arthritis? It can make a difference in how your RA goes.

These doctors treat arthritis and other problems of the joints, bones, and muscles. If you don’t have one, ask your regular doctor for a referral. You can also look on your insurance plan’s list of providers. Or check the website of the American College of Rheumatology (click on “Find a Rheumatologist").

Your rheumatologist will:

  • Do joint exams to look for swelling and changes in strength or how well the joint moves
  • Give you X-rays and blood tests
  • Give you a questionnaire at least twice a year about what you can do

At least once a year, you should talk with your doctor about the “big picture" of your treatment plan. You may want to ask:

  • How severe is my RA?
  • How much has it changed each year? (For instance, you should mention any activities that are hard for you to do.)
  • Do I have any new joint damage?
  • Do I need any new professionals, such as physical or occupational therapists, orthopedic surgeons, or counselors?

If your treatment is on the right track, chances are good that your rheumatoid arthritis is stable and progressing slowly, if at all.

Be open about how you feel and any changes you notice, so your doctor knows what you need.


  1. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: “Talking with Your Doctor or Nurse about RA Drugs.”
  2. Arthritis Foundation: “Quality Measurements for RA.”
  3. FDA: “Therapeutics for Rheumatoid Arthritis.”
  4. The Arthritis Foundation: “Alternative Therapies.”

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