Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.  -George Iles

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Finding the Right Fibromyalgia Doctor

If you have fibromyalgia, you will need to work closely with your doctor to manage it. First, you need an accurate diagnosis. Then you need an effective treatment plan for your illness. A specialist can accurately administer fibromyalgia tests, diagnose the disease, and prescribe medication, physical therapy, and other treatment. In addition, a fibromyalgia doctor may become a close, dependable friend you can talk to when you have worries and anxieties.

What doctor should I go to for fibromyalgia?

The first thing to do is talk with your primary care doctor. A primary care doctor is a general practitioner who has had at least three years of additional training after graduating from medical school. He or she may be a family practice doctor or an internist -- someone who specializes in internal medicine and the study of disease in adults.

As your primary doctor, he or she can best assess your problems. He or she can also make the necessary referrals to a fibromyalgia specialist -- such as a rheumatologist or neurologist -- if you need further treatment or special care.

Should my fibromyalgia doctor be a board-certified specialist?

Finding the right doctor to treat fibromyalgia takes homework. You need to make sure the health care professional you choose is board certified in his or her specialty. You also need to know about the doctor’s experience in pain management, specifically with treating fibromyalgia.

To be board certified, a doctor needs to have completed three years of premedical education in a college or university, four years of medical school resulting in a medical doctor or doctor of osteopathy degree, and at least three years of specialty training in an accredited residency program.

What types of doctors specialize in treating fibromyalgia and pain?

Here is a list of some of the doctors who specialize in treating fibromyalgia and pain:

  • Rheumatologists diagnose and treat arthritis and other diseases of the joints, muscles, and bones. This includes fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout, lupus, back pain, osteoporosis, bursitis, and tendinitis. 
  • Pain specialists are usually board certified anesthesiologists, neurologists, physiatrists, psychiatrists, or oncologists with additional training in pain management. They receive credentials from the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA) in collaboration with the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (ABPMR) and the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABP&N). Or they may receive credentials from the American Board of Pain Medicine. 
  • Neurologists diagnose and treat disorders of the nervous system. This includes treating common pain problems such as headaches, back pain, muscle disorders, fibromyalgia, neuropathy (carpal tunnel syndrome), and reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD). 
  • Orthopedists specialize in the diagnosis, clinical treatment, and surgical repair of bone injuries. They also treat muscle problems and joint tissues -- tendons, ligaments, cartilage.
  • Psychologists diagnose and provide therapy for problems associated with pain, perception, and emotional issues.

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