If you’ve recently developed arthritis, “rheumatologist” may be common in your vocabulary. But for those of you who don’t know what they do or how they help people, keep reading to learn more how they could end up helping you one day.
What is a Rheumatologist?
According to the American College of Rheumatology, a rheumatologist is, “an internist or pediatrician who received further training in the diagnosis (detection) and treatment of musculoskeletal disease and systemic autoimmune conditions commonly referred to as rheumatic diseases.” The diseases a rheumatologist can treat will affect the joints, muscles and bones, causing pain, swelling, stiffness, and deformity.
When Should I See a Rheumatologist?
Everyone experiences muscle and joint pain at some point in their lives, but when that pain doesn’t resolve itself and disrupts our daily lives, additional evaluation may be needed. Typically, you’ll see your primary care physician first, and if there’s concern for an underlying rheumatic condition, your doctor will refer your to a rheumatologist for further evaluation. If you have family members with a history of autoimmune or rheumatic diseases, a referral to a rheumatologist should come sooner as these diseases run in families.
What Can I Expect from my Rheumatology Visit?
Rheumatic diseases are sometimes complex to to diagnose, so rheumatologists will gather a complete medical history from you, and they’ll also perform a physical exam to further look for signs and symptoms that can help them diagnose the problem. A family history can be very helpful in diagnosing the problem, and any prior testing you’ve had done can also be of assistance. With help from additional laboratory or radiographic testing, your doctor can determine the cause of symptoms, and help create a personalized treatment plan. Treatment plans may include medications, referral to physical therapy, referral to other specialists, or joint/tendon injections.
If you think you’re suffering from a disease that a rheumatologist may be able to help with, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor about it, and if you need help with arthritis, you can contact the Arthritis Clinic of Central Texas at 512.667.7123 to set up an appointment.