FM/CFS/ME RESOURCES - Family Physician


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If you have just been diagnosed with fibromyalgia (FM) or CFS/ME, then you're probably looking for a treatment program to help ease the symptoms of your illness. One of the most important facets of an effective treatment program involves finding health care providers that are knowledgeable about all aspects of the illness. A family physician can help you to successfully manage all of your physical symptoms, as well as improve your mental and emotional well being.

What is a Family Physician?

A family physician is a health care professional who provides clients with primary medical care. Sometimes known as a general practitioner (or a GP), a family physician possesses concrete knowledge in all aspects of general medicine, including pediatrics, obstetrics, and internal medicine. Capable of treating men and women of all ages, your family doctor will be able to diagnose, treat, and follow up a range of common medical problems and physical injuries.

What Qualifications Do Family Physicians Have?

Family physicians in the U.S. are qualified medical doctors. They have completed a four-year undergraduate degree at a recognized college or university and have then gone on to complete four years of medical school. In order to become an accredited family doctor, each physician must then go on to complete a three-year internship in family medicine.

In order to practice medicine legally, all family physicians must be certified in family medicine In the United States, certification is offered by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) or by the American Osteopathic Board of Family Medicine (AOBFP). In order to get this certification, all family doctors must pass a series of rigorous exams. Family physicians must also be re-certified every seven years.

What Does a Family Physician Do?

A family doctor can diagnose and treat a wide range of health problems. In particular, family doctors assess, diagnose, and treat:

  • acute illnesses
  • chronic illnesses
  • physical injuries
  • mental health issues

Another important responsibility of a family physician is to provide preventative care to his or her patients. Preventative care may include vaccinations, nutritional advice, weight management tips, smoking cessation and other health advice.

Family Physicians - FM and/or CFS/ME

Though family physicians are not always recognized as being good care providers for those suffering from FM and/or CFS/ME, your family doctor can provide you with solid care for a variety of your FM and CFS/ME symptoms. The key is to find a family doctor who is familiar with the illness and it's possible causes. Thanks to new research in the area, family doctors are now becoming much more aware of FM and CFS/ME and the effects that these illnesses can have on a person's mental and physical state.

I recently asked my members: "Who is primarily in charge of your current treatment?", here were the results:

  • Primary Care Physician/Family Doctor: 51%
  • Other Doctor: 11%
  • Rheumatologist: 10%
  • Pain Specialist: 10%
  • Not Diagnosed: 8%
  • Internist: 3%
  • Neurologist: 2%
  • Osteopath: 2%
  • Nurse Practitioner: 2%
  • Physiatrist: 2%

Personalized Treatment

Family physicians are an excellent type of health care provider to have on your treatment team. Family physicians are there to provide you with ongoing health care throughout all the stages of your life. This means that you can develop a close and ongoing relationship with your family physician, unlike other health care providers. And because family physicians are more accessible than specialists, your family physician will be able to monitor your various symptoms and revise treatment programs according to your needs.

Wide Ranging Treatments

Because family physicians have training in multiple types of physical and mental illnesses, they will also be able to provide you with more comprehensive treatment. In particular, they will be able to provide medical treatment for:

What To Expect

When you visit your family physician for the first time, he will probably ask you about your medical and personal history. You may be asked to fill out a number of forms describing any illnesses that you have, including your FM and/or CFS/ME. Your family doctor will also want to know what other health care providers you are seeing and what kind of treatments they have recommended.

Each time you visit with your family physician, you can expect her to perform a quick physical exam to evaluate the progression of your symptoms. She may check your weight, blood pressure, and heart rate, and will probably evaluate your joints for range of motion. Your family doctor will also look more closely at any particular symptoms that are bothering you.

After assessing your symptoms, your family doctor will be able to provide you with various suggestions for treatment. Family doctors can write prescriptions for various pain medications, sleeping aids, and other pharmacological treatments. Your family doctor can also refer you to another treatment provider should you require more specialized treatment.

Finding a Family Physician

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find a good family physician who is accepting new patients. If you are looking for a new family doctor, you may want to ask your other health care specialists for a referral. Alternatively, you can contact your insurance provider for a list of family physicians in your area. Your local fibromyalgia support group may also be able to provide you with the names of some family physicians who are particularly familiar with fibromyalgia that are close by. Our Doctor Database consists of 7363 doctors in 80 countries worldwide that specialize in treating people with FM and/or CFS/ME.

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