Fibromyalgia: A Checklist for Your Visit to the Neurologist

Fibromyalgia: A Checklist for Your Visit to the Neurologist

Patients with fibromyalgia syndrome are often referred to a neurologist by their primary care physician. The primary care physician and neurologist will work as a team in treating patients and managing their care. If you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, it is helpful to know what to expect when visiting your neurologist and how to prepare for the visit.

As with all health care providers, it will be necessary to maximize your appointment time with your neurologist. When you leave the office you want to be sure that you have all the answers you need. The best idea for all patients is to come to each visit with questions already prepared.

You can begin organizing your health care information right now. Before your first appointment with your neurologist, and before each successive appointment, take time to prepare insurance forms and all the necessary paperwork. Bring all the items you will need to help make optimal use of your time with your doctor.

While there is no known cause for fibromyalgia, current theories focus on the brain. A lowered threshold for pain in fibromyalgia patients is thought to be due to a higher level of sensitization to pain signals from the brain. Fibromyalgia patients show an increase in neurotransmitters – chemicals that signal pain, and more sensitive pain receptors within the brain. For these reasons, a neurologist is well positioned to treat the disease[1]

Important Items to Take to Your Neurology Appointment

Your first appoint with your neurologist will likely be the most lengthily. It is during this appointment that the neurologist will discuss your medical history, give you an examination, discuss your current symptoms, and discuss further testing. Your neurologist might suggest a possible diagnosis and potential treatment options.

For this visit you will want to bring:

  • A copy of your medical records, (some primary care physicians transfer your records for you)
  • Copies of recent lab tests and reports
  • Any recent X-Rays or other medical imaging such as an MRI or CAT Scan, (these will be copied on a CD-ROM by the radiologist), along with the radiologist’s report
  • Medication and dosage information, (include the length of time you have been taking the medication, any changes in dosages, and any side effects or benefits you have with the medicines)

When you arrive at the neurologist’s office, you will check in with the receptionist. You can give the staff member this information so it can be added to your chart. The neurologist will have time to review it before meeting with you.

In addition to the above information, this is the time to present the office with paperwork that needs your neurologist’s signature. Items such as a handicap parking application, a disability form, a work or school excuse, and medications that need a refill, (for returning patients), should be handed to the receptionist at check-in.

Talking with Your Neurologist about Your Fibromyalgia

It is important to discuss everything involving your condition with your neurologist. Your conversations with the doctor give the medical professional a more rounded view of your disease.

  • List your fibromyalgia symptoms. When discussing your medical history and current symptoms it helps to have a list prepared containing what you feel are fibromyalgia related symptoms. Fatigue, chronic pain in the limbs, back, chest, neck, or shoulders, disrupted sleep, irritable bowel syndrome, memory problems, numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, headaches, migraines, and other symptoms of the disease should be discussed with the doctor in order to make a proper diagnosis.[2] The more specific you can be about your symptoms, the better.
  • Discuss lifestyle factors of fibromyalgia with your neurologist. Fibromyalgia can affect you emotionally, cause stress, and keep you from living a full life. If you are experiencing these problems it is important to share them with your doctor.

Questions to Ask

As you prepare for each visit with your neurologist you will have many questions. As mentioned above, it is a good idea to make note of your questions and bring them to your appointment.

Common questions asked by fibromyalgia patients include:

  • Are my symptoms unique?
  • Will I get relief with treatment?
  • What are your treatment goals?
  • What tests will you require in order to diagnosis my symptoms?
  • Will you prescribe medicine for fibromyalgia?
  • What are lifestyle modifications?
  • How often will I see my neurologist?

Working together with your neurologist will give you the opportunity to manage your fibromyalgia symptoms. Take advantage of each appointment by being prepared.

References

[1] Neurological Signs and Symptoms of Fibromyalgia. (n.d.). Retrieved from National Institute of Heath: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2769083/

[2] Fibromyalgia. (n.d.). Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control: www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/fibromyalgia.htm

This article was originally published on July 11, 2012 and last revision and update of it was 9/7/2015