Rheumatology is one of the least known branches of medicine so a lot of patients ask the question, “What should I expect at first visit to a rheumatologist?”

Every appointment is specialized to the person, but the following should give you a good idea of what to expect at the first visit to a rheumatologist.

  • Prior to your appointment
    • Study the medical family history.
      • It’s an important piece of the puzzle.
    • Create a log of your symptoms with the location of the pain, the severity, the day and time of the pain and any changes in the pain.
  • Expect to fill out forms.
    • Arrive 30 minutes early to fill out forms
    • Or print and complete these forms at home.
  • Expect to show a valid picture ID, insurance card, pharmacy card and a method to pay your copay or deductible.
    • Be sure to have your primary care physician forward insurance referrals to the rheumatologist before your appointment date (if required) .
  • When you are called back to the exam room, the nurse will take some vitals and ask you to change into a gown.
  • When you see the rheumatologist expect the visit to be part friendly conversation and part physical exam.
    • You will be asked lots of questions about your pain, past diagnoses, past treatments, your lifestyle, etc.
    • Be prepared to share a list of the following
      • Medications you are currently taking with specific doses.
        • Include supplements and vitamins.
      • Medications you have tried in the past with specific doses
      • Family medical history
      • Results of prior tests.
    • Be prepared to be open and honest.
    • The rheumatologist will check you from head to toe looking for indications of inflammation throughout the musculoskeletal system and any rashes, growths, etc.
    • The rheumatologist will check your heart, lungs and bowls too.
    • You will need to bend and flex your joints.
    • All of the information will be captured on ipads and sent to our Patient Portal.
  • The rheumatologist may order a blood test, x-rays, MRI, CT scan or ultrasound to assess often difficult to diagnose Rheumatic diseases.
  • The Rheumatology Care Center doctor will not prescribe opioid / narcotics for pain management. We seek to find solutions to manage the underlying problem and not to manage pain. There are pain management experts who specialize in this type of care who can better serve you.
  • After reviewing all of the history, tests and physical examination, the rheumatologist hopes to have most if not all of the pieces of the puzzle to provide an accurate diagnosis and develop a personal care plan that may include medications, physical therapy and/or joint injections.
    • Please note that sometimes all of the puzzle pieces fall into place to create a complete picture, but with complex cases the rheumatologist will need to keep looking for any missing pieces of the puzzle.