Community Views: Building Your PsA Healthcare Team
Last updated: April 2023
On paper, psoriatic arthritis is an inflammatory rheumatic condition that affects the joints and tendons. Now, that's on paper. In the real world, those who live with this condition manage so much more than joint and tendon inflammation, and it takes a team of doctors to keep it in check.
You may think those with psoriatic arthritis only need to see a rheumatologist for condition management. And well, you would be very, very wrong. In order to keep this incurable disease treated and its pain levels low, it takes a whole team of different doctors and a whole lot of emotional (and physical) strength.
What does your PsA healthcare team look like?
While PsA affects the joints and skin, many people with PsA also have other chronic illnesses. Treating these conditions may require different specialists.
Our Facebook community recently answered the following questions about their healthcare teams: “How many different doctors do you see on a regular basis?” and “Do you see many different doctors for different conditions or symptoms? What does your healthcare team look like?” Here is what we learned from their responses.
Specialists for people with PsA range widely
Respondents shared the many specialists they see along with a primary care doctor. While each person does not consult every specialist listed, most see several!
- Orthopedic surgeon
- Otorhinolaryngologist (ENT)
- Pain management doctor
Most people visit more than 3 specialists. Most respondents listed more than 3 types of doctor. For some, that feels like an overwhelming number.
- “Way too many.”
- “3 – and that’s 3 too many.”
- “Between 7–8. Depending on the situation, it could average 8–9.”
- “20 doctors in my phone. Some I see once a year.”
Consulting multiple specialists is time-consuming and exhausting
Managing doctor appointments feels like a full-time job to many people in the PsA community. It is exhausting to go through their medical history, symptoms, treatments, and next steps so many times. Some respondents feel discouraged by a lack of focus.
- “I do get tired of doctor appointments.”
- “It’s so frustrating to be sent to so many random doctors. It just makes you feel like you’re being passed around.”
Having multiple doctors means higher costs
Doctor visits nearly always come with a copay. And the cost for specialists is often higher than that for a primary care doctor. With multiple specialists, the costs add up fast. The financial toll is even larger when a person's disease prevents them from working full-time. Unfortunately, these costs can be a barrier to getting necessary care.
- “I went to a rheumatologist several years ago. All they wanted was tons of money, and I never got to see the doctor.”
- “Since I can’t work full-time due to my chronic illnesses, I don’t have great insurance. It’s been impossible to make much progress.”
- “Just my rheumatologist. I can’t afford to see any other doctors, between copays, tests that insurance won’t cover, and gas to all the specialists we’re supposed to see.”
Having a connected team may mean more thorough care
Many respondents appreciate the care they receive from their specialists. Medical teams that work together make a positive difference. For example, doctors ensure the treatments they prescribe do not hamper other specialists' treatments. Several respondents shared that their team communicates regularly.
- “I think all the doctors are genuinely trying their best to give me the best care and explain all my choices and prognoses.”
- “I'm happy everyone is connected to the next, so whatever symptoms I'm having, that doctor can reconcile and put a treatment that won't interfere with my current medications into place.”
- “My healthcare team is amazing. I don’t feel like I am an account number to most of them.”
- “From my primary to my specialty doctors, all make sure they are in constant contact with one another to ensure I'm getting the proper care I need.”
What does your healthcare team look like as you manage psoriatic arthritis? Share your experience here.
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