Your General Practitioner (GP or local doctor) is usually your first stop for health care. Your GP can help you coordinate your overall health care, including making referrals to specialists to help manage your arthritis if needed. Your GP clinic may also have a practice nurse who can provide information and oversee your care with other members of your health care team.
To get the most out of a visit to your GP or other health professional it is important to be prepared.
Here are some tips:
• Think about, and write down, the questions you want to ask before your visit.
• Always take x-rays and test results related to your condition to your consultation.
• Consider taking a family member or friend with you as a second set of ears who can also take notes if needed.
• Ask your doctor or health professional to explain any information that you did not understand.
• Feel free to ask questions, especially about the benefits, side effects and costs of treatments.
• Write down any important information or instructions that you are given.
• Contact Arthritis Queensland for access to information or for any further questions you have about your condition.
Questions your doctor will usually ask:
• How long have you experienced pain?
• Which joints are affected?
• When you get pain what seems to cause it?
• What makes the joint feel better or worse?
• Does anyone else in your family have arthritis or joint pain?
Important: Arthritis can get worse if left untreated. It is important to see your doctor as early as possible to get a proper diagnosis. The information for this article has been summarised from the Arthritis Australia booklet 10 Steps for Living Well with Arthritis. To order a copy, contact Arthritis NSW on 1800 011 041.
Working with Your Healthcare Team
There is a range of further healthcare professionals who may be involved in helping you manage your arthritis, such as:
- Orthopaedic Surgeon
Allied Health Professionals
- Exercise Physiologists
- Occupational Therapists
- Rheumatology Nurses
Download the free Working with your healthcare team information sheet to learn more about what each of these health professionals does, and how to find them.
Arthritis and Chronic Disease Management Plans
If you have arthritis and need access to allied health professionals to help manage your
condition, you can ask your GP about a chronic Disease Management Plan, otherwise known as a care plan. A care plan enables your GP to refer you for five allied health professional services per year subsidised by the Medicare rebate. The services can be with a single health provider or shared across different providers.
Eligible service providers include (but are not limited to): chiropractors, dietitians, exercise physiologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, podiatrists and psychologists. Your GP can help you find a health professional.
If a provider accepts the Medicare benefit as full payment for the service, there will be no out-of pocket cost to you. If not, you will have to pay the difference between the fee charged and the Medicare rebate. Ask your GP for more information.
For more information on Chronic Disease Management Plans, visit the Australian Government’s website: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/mbsprimarycare-chronicdisease-pdf-infosheet