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Here are three primary sites for mainstream medical information. Any one of them is useful, and combined they can go a long way toward giving you the breadth and depth of information you need to understand a diagnosis of arthritis.
For many of us, this national not-for-profit organization has been a godsend. I attended a support group when I first developed arthritis that was invaluable to me. In addition to support groups, they also offer exercise classes, teach coping skills and offer user-friendly information through their website.
Because the Arthritis Foundation takes a more conservative approach to arthritis, they are often not a reliable source of information for treatments considered to be experimental or 'fringe.' At the same time, once a treatment approach has an endorsement from the Arthritis Foundation, you can count on it being of significant benefit to at least some people.
If you are looking for support or information delivered with a more caring touch than is possible on-line, your local Arthritis Foundation chapter is likely to offer a variety of in-person resources.
This site is a great resource provided as a service of the US National Library of Medicine and the National Institute of Health.
It has many useful features including:
- A Medical Dictionary
- The A.D.A.M. Health Illustrated Encyclopedia which includes over 4,000 articles about diseases, tests, symptoms, injuries, and surgeries
- A Drug Information Guide to more than 9,000 prescription and over-the-counter medications
- A great health topics section
When I entered ankylosing spondylitis (a type of arthritis) into the health topics section, I found a variety of good links to research, diagnosis, treatment, support groups, clinical trials, etc.
Although the information presented on this site is technical, the authors have done an admirable job in presenting it in ways that can be understood by the lay public.
Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy
This is a manual used by medical doctors to diagnose and treat patients. Unlike Medline Plus, there has been no attempt to make this an easy read for the lay public. Nonetheless, I recommend it for those of you under the care of an MD because it gives you a one-stop-shopping way to access the specialized language you are likely to encounter in the doctor’s office.
Unless you have medical training, don’t expect to understand everything you read here. As you read, just write down the names of the standard medical tests and drugs options your doctor will typically have available. And then read through again to get some idea of what each one does. Doing this will greatly increase your ability to understand what your doctor has to offer you. It will also give you the concepts and vocabulary to talk with your doctor on more equal footing.