Do You Need To See An Orthopedic Physician Or A Rheumatologist
Patients should use the guidelines below to help determine if they should choose an orthopedic physician or rheumatologist for their arthritis and joint pain.
Patients might need an orthopedic physician if they have:
- Joint or musculoskeletal pain that began after an injury
- Gradually progressive hip or knee pain that is worse with weight bearing
- Joint pain that is severe and interfering with function
- Moderate or advanced arthritis of the knee or hip
- Previous unsuccessful treatment for joint pain
- Been told by their doctor they might need a joint replacement
Patients might need a rheumatologist if they have:
- Pain involving many joints
- New joint pain not associated with any injury
- Joint or musculoskeletal pain associated with morning stiffness, fever, fatigue, rash or chest pain
- Joint pain that followed a tick bite
- Joint pain associated with back pain
- Joint pain and psoriasis
- Muscular pain with or without any other symptoms
- New headaches or muscle aches and are over the age of 50
- Back pain with or without pain in the legs
- Unexplained, ongoing symptoms such as fever, sweats or weight loss
A patients’ medical needs are important and unique, that is why UMass Memorial Medical Center offers specialty trained physicians that have devoted their education and career to treating specific medical conditions to serve you.
What Does A Rheumatologist Do
Rheumatology studies the causes, impact, and treatments of inflammatory autoimmune disorders on the human body. In an autoimmune disorder, a patients own immune system malfunctions and turns its attack on his own healthy body tissue, rather than on invading or external disease agents.
Rheumatologists can be internists or pediatricians who have additional training and qualifications. They have the experience to diagnose and treat many of the over 100 systemic forms of adult, juvenile, and temporal arthritis. They treat mechanical joint, bone, muscle, and soft and connective tissue diseases.
Often referred to as arthritis doctors, rheumatologists treat many other diseases too.
The Benefits Of Involving Your Doctor
Based on your condition, you and your doctors can develop a joint treatment plan to minimize your symptoms, help you preserve joint function, and improve your quality of life by enabling you tostay as active as possible, says Dr. Brown.
When the signs of osteoarthritis begin to limit your daily activities, its time to take action and call your doctor.
And staying active provides you at least two additional benefits:
- Extra pounds raise your risk for serious health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. Extra pounds also add stress on weight-bearing joints and contribute to arthritis.
- Physical activity strengthens your muscles and helps you maintain better balance. The Arthritis Foundation reports that people with osteoarthritis have as much as a 30 percent higher risk of falling and a 20 percent greater risk of fractures. Seeking treatment for osteoarthritis can help you stay on your feet.
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Getting Ready For Surgery
Here are some tips to help you prepare for surgery:
- Plan for recovery and returning home. During your recovery, which may take days, weeks or even months, you may need help with daily tasks such as cooking and showering. Make sure you have family and/or friends available to help you during this time. If you do not have help available, talk to your doctor about local support services or staying at a rehabilitation centre after surgery.
- You may be required to attend an assessment at the hospital before your surgery. This is a good chance for you to ask questions about your surgery and recovery. Also you may be able to talk to a physiotherapist or occupational therapist about any equipment you may need, such as crutches and handrails in the shower.
- Lose weight if you are overweight.
- Stop smoking.
- Start an exercise program. People with greater fitness and muscle strength usually recover more quickly from surgery. If you have severe pain, you may find water exercise more comfortable. See a physiotherapist for hydrotherapy or contact us to find out more about our warm water exercise classes.
- You will probably need to follow a physiotherapy or exercise program after surgery. Be ready for several weeks or even months of exercise. Remember, the amount of effort you put into your program can make a big difference in how well you recover.
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Are You Sure Its Oa
Only your doctor can be sure that your symptoms are caused by OA and not another condition. Itâs important to get a diagnosis from a doctor so you can use the right treatments.
If your joints are hot to the touch, red, or swollen, see your doctor right away. Those are signs that your joint is inflamed. Your doctor can drain any fluid that has built up in your joint, test the fluid to make sure something else isnât causing the pain, and give you a steroid shot to ease your symptoms if you need it.
Also, see your doctor if you notice these signs that youâre OA is getting worse:
- You have bony spurs or bumps on your joint.
- Your joint starts to look deformed or out of line.
- It locks or buckles when you use it.
- You hear it crack, pop, or grind when you move it.
It’s Easy To Get The Care You Need
See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.
You want to stay active and avoid pain, right? Then dont delay seeking treatment for joint problems likeosteoarthritis. Your doctor can help you avoid permanent joint damage and other serious health issues.
So, what joint symptoms are a sign for you to call your doctor for an evaluation?
What To Look For In A Health Professional
- Experience treating your condition. The more experience your doctor has with your condition, generally, the more adept he will be at recognizing and treating it. For example, a doctor who has little experience with fibromyalgia might not be as quick to make a diagnosis and prescribe effective treatment as one whos spent a lot of time with such patients.
- Up-to-date knowledge. Arthritis research advances continuously. Make sure your doctor is on top of the latest studies so he can provide the best care.
- Accessibility. A doctor who cant see you for weeks or return calls when youre in the midst of a medication reaction or a flare can make you feel like a second-rate patient.
- Willingness to fight. A good doctor will go to bat for you with your insurance company if they dont want to cover a specialist referral, surgical procedure or prescribed medication.
- A solid office staff. Your doctor may be wonderful, but if her staff loses your phone messages, deletes your e-mail, fails to do what they say they will or treats you rudely when you call or visit, consider looking elsewhere.
Role Of The Primary Care Doctor
Your primary care doctor will able to make an initial assessment following a physical examination. They can order X-rays, blood tests, or any other diagnostic tests needed to support his initial assessment. Your primary care doctor can also prescribe medications to relieve pain and other arthritis symptoms.
After test results come back and enough time has passed to evaluate how you are doing on the prescribed medications, your healthcare provider may decide that they can handle your case. If not, they may decide to refer you to a specialist in arthritis diseases known as a rheumatologist.
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Do I Need To Go To A Rheumatologist Or An Orthopedist
With so much overlap between medical disciplines and specializations, it is often difficult for an individual to discern which type of doctor to see for their problem.
This is especially true for orthopedics and rheumatology, as both of these types of physicians treat joint pain.
Orthopedists are surgeons who address bone and joint diseases and injuries, such as arthritis, osteoarthritis, and body trauma. Rheumatologists are internal medicine physicians who focus on autoimmune conditions and the non-surgical treatment of such diseases, such as arthritis, where medications and/or physical therapy can provide the proper treatment.
It is important to understand the areas these two specialties cover in order to make an informed decision.
Orthopedic Doctor For Arthritis In Little Rock
At Bowen Hefley Orthopedics, our team of board-certified orthopedists and physician assistants are committed to providing world-class care to help you live pain free. If your arthritis is affecting your quality of life, know that you dont have to live with it any longer. Call Bowen Hefley Orthopedics at 336-2412 to schedule an appointment or use our online request form. With four convenient locations around Little Rock, there is an office near you.
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What To Expect From A First Visit
A routine appointment with a rheumatologist varies depending on the condition or complaint they are helping to treat. A standard appointment may involve a rheumatologist:
- reviewing a persons medical and family histories, as well as the results of any previous testing or laboratory work
- performing a physical exam to look for any signs of systemic inflammation
- evaluating posture, movement, and flexibility
- examining any specific joints, muscles, or bones that feel swollen, stiff, or painful
- asking questions about other related symptoms that a person may be experiencing
- ordering blood work or other laboratory tests, such as an X-ray or MRI scan, to provide a clinical diagnosis
- making treatment recommendations or waiting to review the lab work before recommending medications or physical therapy
- providing a clinical outlook, plans of care, and short- and long-term goals
Joint Pain And Arthritis
Normal aches and pains can occur occasionally, but when pain doesnt go away, is not related to an injury and/or is getting worse, its time to see a doctor.
If you are experiencing chronic or persistent pain, Gonzaba Medical Group can help you identify the cause and recommend a comprehensive treatment plan to help you manage and control your joint pain and arthritis.
Role Of The Rheumatologist
After consulting with your primary care doctor, it may be that your diagnosis is not clear-cut. Or you may seem to have a complicated case. At that point, it may be wise to see a rheumatologist.
A rheumatologist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic diseases, a group of disorders characterized by chronic, often intermittent pain affecting the joints or connective tissues.
Rheumatologists have additional education and training, making them a better choice for complicated cases. As the patient, you may want to a rheumatologist if:
- Your pain is unrelenting.
- Your symptoms are persistent or worsening despite treatment.
- Your healthcare provider is unable to diagnose the underlying cause.
- Your symptoms are flaring more frequently or more severely.
- You are less able to handle tasks you use to be able to manage.
- You are becoming increasingly homebound.
- Your condition is lowering your quality of life.
A rheumatologist can also consult on a limited basis to offer a second opinion about whether your treatment plan is appropriate and optimal for your condition. Your primary care doctor won’t resent that you want a second opinion they will more than likely encourage it.
Once you have your second opinion, you can return to your healthcare provider for regular follow-up appointments.
A rheumatologist does not perform surgery. If surgery is indicated, an orthopedic surgeon would be your best option.
Do Dermatologists And Rheumatologists Ever Work Together
- Combined rheumatology-dermatology clinics are a newer frontier in the treatment of psoriatic arthritis, with just over 20 clinics in the United States
- Depending on the clinic, some rheumatologists and dermatologists may see a patient at the same time in the same room. Sometimes, separate back-to-back visits are required
- Studies show this combined care approach could achieve better outcomes for both skin and musculoskeletal symptoms
- A survey from the Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Clinic Multicenter Advancement Network found over 80% of doctors thought a combined clinic accelerated an accurate diagnosis
- Challenges are largely related to scheduling and billing
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Reasons To See A Rheumatologist
Muscle and joint pain are common, but see a primary care physician if you have pain that lasts for more than a few days.
A doctor can evaluate whether youre experiencing temporary pain from an injury or other inflammatory causes. They can also refer you to a rheumatologist if needed.
If your pain worsens over a short time, you should see a rheumatologist.
Also, if your symptoms decrease with initial treatment, such as with pain medication, but return once the treatment stops, you might need a specialist.
You may want to see a rheumatologist if you:
- experience pain in multiple joints
- have new joint pain not related to a known injury
- have joint or muscle pain accompanied by fever, fatigue, rashes, morning stiffness, or chest pain
- have muscle pain with or without other symptoms
- are over 50 years old and have recurring headaches or muscle aches
- have a chronic illness without a unifying diagnosis
Many rheumatic conditions are hereditary, so let your doctor and rheumatologist know if you have any family history of:
- autoimmune disease
- rheumatic disease
Dont delay seeking treatment if you have persistent joint, bone, or muscle pain. A doctor should evaluate joint stiffness that lasts more than 30 minutes, especially if its worse in the morning after long periods of inactivity or any joint swelling.
When Youre Ready To Exercise
When your joints are stiff and sore, the last thing you may want to do is move around. But exercise can ease your pain and make you more flexible.
But before you start a new exercise plan, itâs a good idea to talk to your doctor. They can make sure the activity is safe for your joints and overall health.
Your physical therapist can create an exercise plan to strengthen muscles around your weak joints and teach you stretches to make your joints more flexible. Check with them to make sure you donât overdo it. As you get used to your workout, you can pick up the pace or do it for longer.
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Do You Have Joint Pain We Can Help
At Orthopedic Specialists of Southwest Florida, we understand how chronic pain disrupts your quality of life. At our practice, we can help you find the relief you crave from your joint pain, sports injuries, or other orthopedic concerns. If youve sustained disability or suffer from arthritis pain, body trauma, an injury accident, or something similar, our orthopedics treatments can help.
For more information or to schedule a consultation at Orthopedic Specialists of Southwest Florida, please call 215-2008 today or reach out online to book an appointment.
When Should I Talk To My Doctor About Joint Surgery
If you have any of the following signs you should talk to your doctor about the possibility of surgery.
- You have pain that stops you going to sleep at night.
- Your pain does not improve with rest, medicines, exercise or other treatments.
- Your affected joint makes it difficult for you to look after yourself and you require help from others for everyday tasks.
- Your condition makes it difficult for you to work or look after people who require your care.
- Your pain is keeping you from doing things you enjoy, such as exercising or doing hobbies.
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When You Know You Have The Right Match
Traci Lynn Martin, a neonatal ICU nurse and expedition kayaker from Lees Summit, Missouri, found out she had rheumatoid arthritis, she went to a few rheumatologists before she found the right chemistry.
The first person I saw I didnt like, Martin says, because I didnt feel like he was listening to me. He had a formula with questions and it wasnt personalized. It was important for me to stay active, to be able to do my triathlons, and long distance kayaking that I had done my whole life.
Friends referred her to other specialists, but she knew right away when she found the right rheumatologist. He sits down and doesnt rush in and out and doesnt leave the room until I am happy, Martin says. I walked out of there so happy after the first visit, I felt like I had someone who was listening to me for the first time since my diagnosis.
What Are Some Red Flags To Watch Out For When Picking A Rheumatologist
Be wary of someone who doesnt look you in the eye eye contact is crucial, Ginsberg believes.
If the doctors head is buried in your chart or electronic health record during your appointment, thats a red flag. You want someone who relates to you, not your chart or lab results, he says.
Another major red flag is when doctors, nurses, or other members of the office staff dont respond to your phone calls.
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