By the time symptoms motivate an osteoarthritis patient to call a doctor, joint damage can be quite advanced. While early treatment can slow or prevent the progression of joint damage, the case for early diagnosis and treatment can be a hard-sell. Right or wrong -- some patients have reasons for waiting and procrastinating.
Avoiding the Doctor
It's safe to say most people don't enjoy going to the doctor. Many will use every available excuse to push it off for as long as possible. Some people are uninsured and have financial concerns that force them to postpone going to the doctor. Others actually convince themselves that their symptoms will go away or aren't cause for concern. Others may:
- be in denial
- fear illness -- the "one thing leads to another" mentality
- fear treatment and treatment side effects
- believe the many misconceptions about arthritis
- fear what they don't understand
Learning about osteoarthritis will help a patient:
The Patient's Responsibility
The patient must be able to communicate with their doctor -- once they finally do seek medical care. It's important to be open and honest about fear or any aspect of the disease that is not well understood.
There should be a productive dialogue between doctor and patient. The patient must be willing to disclose, not only how they feel physically, but also emotionally. There is an expectation that a doctor should do all he can to help you. Don't avoid your own responsibility which is to help your doctor help you.
Advanced joint damage can lead to disability and may force you to make significant changes in your life. Under a doctor's care, you will know you are doing all that you can do to prevent or delay disability. Be proactive with your health care. Replace misconception with knowledge. Replace fear with action. Take control of your disease. Don't wait until it's too late.