-- Question: Hi. My name is Sara, and I have suffered chronic pain for ten years from rheumatoid arthritis. I would like to know how more quickly to get through the maze of referrals to a pain management center.
Answer: Hi, Sara. This is a difficult issue; there a lots of different options for care in our system. Let's assume that that your rheumatoid arthritis is not being as well managed as you would like it to be. If you are having persistent difficulties or symptoms that are troublesome for you and you are under the care of a primary care physician then your next step is not necessarily to go to a specialized pain management center but to actually go to a rheumatologist who specializes in a the care of rheumatoid arthritis patients. That physician will be able to confirm the diagnosis, which should not be a given, as well as provide you with the latest therapies for rheumatoid arthritis.
Once you're certain that the disease is being managed as effectively as possible and your symptoms are minimized, then you have to address -- am I getting the appropriate care in terms of the bigger picture, my day-to-day functioning, my ability to cope with my illness. If those are now problems for you, then the next step would be a specialized center for the care of patients with chronic pain.
They will have a broader array of services, a larger number of professionals who have expertise in these particular areas of coping with a chronic illness and how that has an impact on your ability to live your daily life.