What is a Rheumatologist?
A rheumatologist is a certified internist who is qualified to diagnose and treat arthritic diseases of the joints, muscles, and bones. Rheumatologists can conduct tests and perform procedures that can help relieve the symptoms of various illnesses and diseases that affect the joints, muscles, and bones.
How does a doctor become a Rheumatologist?
To become a rheumatologist, a person must attend college for four years, followed by four years of medical school. After graduating from medical school, aspiring doctors must attend another three years of specialized training in Internal Medicine. The Internal medicine doctors then complete a 2-3 year fellowship at a hospital or clinic where they treat patients other the guidance of an experienced rheumatologist. Most rheumatologists choose to become certified, and they must pass an exam from the American Board of Internal Medicine to do so.
What types of diseases do Rheumatologists treat?
Rheumatologists treat a variety of illnesses and diseases. They focus on diseases that affect the joints but can treat a variety of health problems that affect the bones and muscles, as well. Some of the most common include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Antiphospholipid syndrome
- Musculoskeletal pain disorders
- Back pain
What are the diagnostic tests and procedures ordered by a Rheumatologist?
Rheumatologists use a variety of tests and procedures to diagnose disorders and illnesses. They may perform some of these tests themselves, or they may order the tests and have other doctors conduct them. Some common tests and procedures used to diagnose common rheumatology problems include:
- Bone density tests
- DNA scanning
- Blood tests
- Anti-nuclear antibody tests
What are the different types of Rheumatologists?
There are two distinct types of rheumatologists, and each performs similar procedures on patients. The two types of rheumatologists include:
- Adult Rheumatologists: Adult rheumatologists diagnose and treat problems that affect the bones, joints, and muscles of adults.
- Pediatric Rheumatologists: Pediatric rheumatologists treat bone, muscle, and joint issues in children. Pediatric rheumatologists usually undergo more training and education to better understand how rheumatic diseases affect children.
How do Rheumatologists treat health problems?
Since there are so many rheumatology diseases and illnesses, there are many different treatments, as well. Each disease or illness is treated differently. Some patients have success with one treatment, and others need to try several different treatments together to find a solution. Some of the most common treatments include:
- Glucocorticoids or Steroids
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- Physical therapy
- Antimalarial medications
- Urate-lowering therapy
- Weight loss
- Nutritional therapy
When to see a Rheumatologist?
It can sometimes be hard to determine when you should see a rheumatologist or when you should wait it out and see if the pain or problems subside on their own. In many cases, a doctor will refer a patient to a rheumatologist if he or she suspects a rheumatic disease or problem. You should see a rheumatologist for any of the following reasons:
- Pain in the joints, bones, or muscles
- Arthritis flareup
- Dry eyes or mouth
- Change in sleeping habits
- Abnormal blood test results
- Swelling or stiffness in joints
- Joints that are red or hot to touch
- American College of Rheumatology. https://www.rheumatology.org/