I was speaking with my extremely knowledgeable and pragmatic rheumatologist to get some information for another article. Can you tell that I really like him?
He provided some information that may make a huge difference to your treatment plan:
"Since RA affects only 0.5-1% of the population, many GP's don't typically see a lot of RA patients. Folks need to be 'pushy' if they have significant joint problems, especially if they are of recent onset and persistent.
If the local - or distant - rheumatologists have a long waiting list, ask your GP to call the rheumatologist and discuss your problems for a couple of minutes. Referral letters are usually brief and often don't give enough information. It's worth a long trip a few times a year to ensure that you have appropriate assessment and treatment. RA treatment is not a one night stand.
It is important to be assessed and managed by a rheumatologist if you have an inflammatory arthritis, such as RA."