54 Questions to Ask a Rheumatologist

Rheumatologists are specialists who diagnose and treat diseases of the joints, muscles, and bones. These conditions can range from relatively mild (such as tendinitis) to severe (such as rheumatoid arthritis). If you think you might have a problem with your joints, muscles, or bones, your primary care doctor may refer you to a rheumatologist.

Before you see a rheumatologist, it’s a good idea to prepare a list of questions. This way, you can be sure that you can discuss anything you want during your appointment Not sure what to ask? Here are a few questions to get you started.

54 Questions you can ask your rheumatologist:

  1. What is the name of my condition?
  2. What causes my condition?
  3. How will my condition progress?
  4. What are the treatments for my condition?
  5. What are the side effects of the treatments?
  6. How long will I need to take medication?
  7. Are there any lifestyle changes I should make?
  8. Should I see a specialist?
  9. How can I manage my pain?
  10. What can I do to prevent further damage to my joints?
  11. Are there any assistive devices that can help me with my daily activities?
  12. What should I do if I experience a flare-up?
  13. Can my condition be cured?
  14. Is there a genetic component to my condition?
  15. Am I at risk for developing other conditions related to my condition?
  16. What should I do if I develop another condition related to my condition?
  17. How will my other conditions be treated?
  18. How can I find support groups for people with my condition?
  19. Who can I contact if I have questions or need more information about my condition?
  20. What are the symptoms of my condition?
  21. How will my condition be diagnosed?
  22. What can I do to manage my symptoms?
  23. Are there any alternative treatments available?
  24. How often should I see you for follow-up appointments?
  25. Who else should I see for my condition (e.g., physical therapist, occupational therapist)?
  26. What research is being done on my condition?
  27. Are there any clinical trials I can participate in?
  28. What support groups are available to me?
  29. Where can I find more information about my condition?
  30. What happens if my condition worsens?
  31. What is your policy on prescribing opioids for pain management?
  32. How can I best manage my condition?
  33. What medications are available to treat my condition?
  34. What are the possible side effects of these medications?
  35. What are the risks and benefits of these alternative treatments?
  36. How can I best protect myself from infections, which can be serious for people with rheumatic conditions?
  37. What vaccines do I need to stay healthy and avoid infections?
  38. What should I do if I think I have an infection?
  39. Can my condition affect other parts of my body?
  40. Should I see a physical therapist or an occupational therapist?
  41. Should I take supplements or vitamins?
  42. Are there any over-the-counter medications I should avoid?
  43. Are there any foods I should avoid?
  44. What experience do you have treating patients with my type of condition?
  45. What kind of tests will you need to confirm my diagnosis?
  46. How long will it take for me to start feeling better?
  47. Will my rheumatoid arthritis always be this severe?
  48. Is there anything I can do to prevent my symptoms from getting worse?
  49. How will we track my progress over time?
  50. Will I need surgery at some point?
  51. If so, what kind of surgery would you recommend?
  52. What are the risks and complications associated with surgery?
  53. How long will it take me to recover from surgery?
  54. Can diet or exercise help relieve my symptoms?

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a rheumatologist do?

A rheumatologist is a doctor who specializes in treating diseases that affect joints, muscles, and bones. They can diagnose and treat conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, and chronic pain.

Rheumatologists can also give advice on preventing joint injuries and managing pain. They usually use a range of treatments, including medications, physical therapy, and surgery.

Why would you need to see a rheumatologist?

If you suffer from joint pain, stiffness, or swelling, you may need to see a rheumatologist for diagnosis and treatment.

What will the rheumatologist do on the first visit?

During your first visit, the rheumatologist will ask you about your symptoms and medical history. He or she will also perform a physical examination, which may include testing the range of motion of your joints and checking for inflammation. If necessary, the rheumatologist may order additional tests, such as X-rays or blood tests.


The above questions are just a starting point for a conversation with your rheumatologist – you may have additional questions specific to your situation.

Once you have a diagnosis and a treatment plan, be sure to follow your rheumatologist’s recommendations and keep him or her informed of your progress so that he or she can adjust your plan over time as needed.

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