Occupational therapist. This health care professional has training to help patients reach their highest level of independence in daily activities. An occupational therapist can teach you how to reduce strain on your joints during daily activities and can fit you with splints and other devices to give your joints a much-needed rest.

Physical therapist. This professional is trained and licensed in rehabilitation techniques. Physical therapists can help restore function and prevent disability for people affected by arthritis. They can also design exercise programs to help reduce pain and improve the functioning of parts of your body affected by arthritis.

Psychologist. These professionals have specialized education and training in behavior, human psychology, therapeutic methods and counseling in one-on-one therapy or group therapy. Some psychologists have additional training or experience in the emotional challenges and coping issues related to chronic illness, life changes and relationships. People may call themselves “a therapist,” but may not have any specialized education or training. State requirements for practicing psychologists vary. Some require a license to practice.

Social worker. A social worker is licensed to help people deal with the impact of chronic illness on their lives. Usually this involves helping people connect with social services and other types of assistance. Social workers also can help find solutions to social and financial problems related to your disease.

Acupuncturist. Trained in traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncturists seek to balance the body’s vital energy, known as qi (pronounced “chee”), which is thought to be out of balance when you have a disease or illness. Acupuncture may help reduce pain for some people with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.

Chiropractor. Also known as doctors of chiropractic, these health professionals are not trained or licensed as medical doctors, but instead are trained in the practice of spinal manipulation and other physical techniques. They may be helpful in relieving the pain of certain back problems. People with conditions like osteoporosis or who have a complicated medical history should talk to their medical doctor before getting treatments.  

Teamlet. With too many patients leaving their doctor’s offices confused, dissatisfied and not receiving the recommended care for their chronic diseases, an increasingly popular approach is the “teamlet,” or little team. A teamlet consists of a health coach and a doctor. It’s similar to the system for primary health care that’s used in England, where doctors rely on nurses to provide most chronic and preventive care and to do routine tasks like refilling prescriptions.

The health coach meets with the patient before the clinical exam to determine priorities for the visit, take a basic history, check on medication use and order lab tests. Then the coach stays in the exam room while the doctor is working, partly to assist the physician with procedures and paperwork, but also to help the patient by recording important details of the visit and keeping the visit in line with the patient’s priorities.