How Is Osteoarthritis Of The Spine Diagnosed
The best way to confirm a diagnosis of osteoarthritis is by X-ray. The doctor will take a medical history and perform a physical exam to see if the person has pain, tenderness, loss of motion involving the neck or lower back, or if symptoms are suggestive, signs of nerve involvement such as weakness, reflex changes, or loss of sensation.
The doctor may order certain tests to aid in the diagnosis of osteoarthritis of the spine. These tests include:
- X-rays to look for bone damage, bone spurs, and loss of cartilage or disc however, X-rays are not able to show early damage to cartilage.
- Blood tests to exclude other diseases
- Magnetic resonance imaging to show possible damage to discs or narrowing of areas where spinal nerves exit
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What Is A Rheumatologist
A rheumatologist is a doctor who treats conditions related to the bones, joints, and muscles. These often include autoimmune diseases such as gout, lupus, and various forms of arthritis.
Though the precise underlying causes of autoimmune diseases arent fully understood, they are thought to be related to the body attacking its own healthy tissues. Over time, untreated autoimmune diseases can also damage your organs, eyes, and nervous system. The goal of a rheumatologist is to come up with a treatment plan to reduce the damaging inflammation caused by related autoimmune diseases.
Its important to note that while autoimmune diseases, like arthritis, can cause symptoms of the skin, rheumatologists work to treat the underlying inflammation that causes them. This differs from a dermatologist, who can treat the skin problems at the surface level. Rheumatologists use drugs that target inflammation so the body stops attacking healthy tissues. These come in the form of biologics, corticosteroids, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs .
Primary Care Provider For Psoriatic Arthritis
A primary care provider should be on everybodys team. But when it comes to PsA, they are extra important.
One reason is because PsA increases the risk of heart disease due to uncontrolled inflammation in the body. A primary care provider can keep an eye on a few things to :
If youre young, its important to remind your primary care provider that PsA increases your risk of heart disease. Cholesterol and blood sugar tests arent typically recommended for younger people without risk factors. Reminding your provider that you are at higher risk due to your PsA helps ensure the right tests can be ordered.
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Where Can I See A Rheumatologist For Ra
Because RA is a long-term disease, youll see this doctor often. Where Do Rheumatologists Work? Youll find them mostly in outpatient clinics. Theyre usually linked with a local hospital, so they can work with people admitted there for treatment of rheumatic diseases. How Do I Find One? Your primary care doctor will refer you to a rheumatologist.
What Kind Of Doctors Should I See For Psoriatic Arthritis
Most people with PsA have at least a few different people on their team.
The most common team members include:
Rheumatologist : Typically the point person when it comes to your PsA.
Dermatologist : Also a top member of the team, though some people with PsA will only have a rheumatologist.
Primary care provider: Another top team member. The point person on everything else.
Other health conditions like heart disease, eye disease, or inflammatory bowel disease can be related to PsA. If you have these conditions, you might need these members on your team, too:
When you have PsA, it can be hard to move around or hold things. And when its hard to physically get through the day, it can be mentally tough, as well. If your physical function or mental health is affected, you might need the following members on your team, too:
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Can An Internal Medicine Doctor Care For My Arthritis
If you are experiencing pain, stiffness, and swelling in your fingers, hands, wrists, hips, knees, or ankles, it may be arthritis. You should consult with a doctor for a diagnosis and treatment plan.
Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for arthritis. However, working closely with your doctor and following an appropriate treatment plan can help you control your symptoms and live a happy, active, and worthwhile life. The question is: which doctor should you see for arthritis?
If you have arthritis, you have a few choices when it comes to choosing a doctor for treatment. Orthopedic physicians can treat arthritis because they are specialists in the bodys musculoskeletal system. Another choice is to see an internal medicine doctor. Internal medicine doctors diagnose, treat, and prevent all types of diseases and conditions in adults, including arthritis.
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Other Specialists For Psoriatic Arthritis
If you have other health conditions related to PsA, you might need the help of a few other specialists. If you do not have these conditions, you can leave them off the roster. Preemptive screening visits arent needed, either.
You may need the expertise of a cardiologist if you have severe heart disease. While a primary care provider can manage blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease, a cardiologist is needed for multiple risk factors or when you have severe heart disease.
Seeing an ophthalmologist is important if your PsA causes eye inflammation . Eye inflammation is an uncommon complication of PsA. Symptoms include eye pain, redness, and vision changes.
A gastroenterologist may be an important member of your care team if you have inflammatory bowel disease. PsA can increase the risk of inflammation in the gut. Symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease include chronic abdominal pain, diarrhea, and bloody stools.
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Reasons To See A Rheumatologist
Almost everyone has some pain in the muscles or joints from time to time. But if it lasts days or more, it might be a good idea to visit a rheumatologist.
It can be hard to diagnose some rheumatic diseases in the early stages. But some of these conditions respond best to early care, so itâs better to see a specialist sooner rather than later. Without treatment, they may lead to joint damage.
Itâs also good to see a rheumatologist if you notice symptoms of autoimmune or rheumatic disease and you have a family history of these conditions.
Causes Of Spinal Arthritis
Spinal arthritis is typically the result of years of wear and tear that has caused deterioration of the joints and cartilage along the spine. Regrettably, we still do not know exactly why this happens. Even those who have taken good care of themselves are at risk of developing osteoarthritis of the spine.
However, there are several risk factors that may make you more susceptible to spinal arthritis:
- Spinal trauma or injury
- Other conditions such as diabetes, Lyme disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gout, psoriasis, or tuberculosis
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Neurologist Or Memory Disorder Specialist
A neurologist is a specialist who is trained in nervous system disorders, especially issues with the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves.2
As with most branches of medicine, neurologists can focus on different aspects of these disorders, or choose to concentrate their care on one disorder. This is something to consider when looking for a neurologist: ask them if they specialize in dementia or the care of Alzheimers patients.
In addition to a medical degree, neurologists complete an internship and then a residency in neurology that is at least three years long. If they decide to pursue further specialization like training in sleep medicine or want to focus on one disorder, they might have additional training after their residency.3
You might also see doctors labeled as memory disorder specialists. These can be neurologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, or geriatricians who specialize in diagnosing and treating dementia or other memory disorders.
Hand Surgeon In San Antonio Texas
At the Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine, our hand surgery team diagnoses and treats a broad range of hand injuries and conditions, including arthritis.
Our extensive education and training enable us to treat the most complex hand issues. For any type of hand or wrist pain and injury, call the Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine at 692-7400 or request an appointment now. We are happy to provide you the highest quality care for your hand condition.
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Choosing The Right Doctors
PsA treatment often requires regular care by both a dermatologist and a rheumatologist. Still, finding the right doctors can be overwhelming to start. Aside from seeing which providers are in-network with your insurance carrier, you can also ask your primary doctor for some recommendations.
As a rule of thumb, you should also select doctors that are board-certified. You can also check out the AAD website for certified dermatologists, as well as the American College of Rheumatologists website for a rheumatologist.
In addition to undergraduate school and medical school education, dermatologists must undergo extensive internships and at least three years worth of residency training. To become board certified, a dermatologist must pass an exam for proper certification. A certified dermatologist usually displays their credentials somewhere in their office.
Like dermatologists, rheumatologists undergo significant schooling and training. The estimated timeline for education and training is the same, and they must also complete certification exams before practicing rheumatology. You may need a referral from your primary doctor to make an appointment.
Once youve found a dermatologist and rheumatologist, ask about their experiences in treating PsA. Because both types of doctors treat a variety of conditions, some might be more experienced in PsA than others.
They Are Specialists Who Like What They Do
According to a 2018 survey, if rheumatologists had it to do over again, four out of five them would choose to be a doctor and three out of four would choose the same specialty. That satisfaction may be because they can see the impact they make on patients lives and well-being.
If you treat someones high blood pressure and cholesterol, youre helping in the long term to prevent heart disease and stroke, but the patient doesnt feel anything unless they have side effects from the medication. When you treat someone with arthritis and you relieve their pain, they wake up feeling better and normal, and that is the wonderful part about being a physician and a rheumatologist, says Dr. Marchetta.
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What To Expect At The Rheumatologist
Rheumatic diseases change over time. A rheumatologist can set up a personalized treatment plan to manage your symptoms.
Rheumatologists start with a physical exam and may ask about your personal and family health history. They use this information to narrow down what may be causing your symptoms.
If youâve had testing or imaging for your symptoms, bring copies of any documents or scans to your rheumatologist.
Some treatments that a rheumatologist might recommend include:
Be Able To Describe Your Back Pain Hip Pain Or Other Symptoms In As Much Detail As Possible
One thing your doctor will want to gauge is whether your back pain is inflammatory or mechanical. Theyll do this by asking you questions about what times of day your pain is worse whether your pain feels better or worse when you move around whether your back pain ever wakes you up at night and how long your pain lasts .
Make sure you point out everywhere on your body youre experiencing pain. AS doesnt just strike the back and hips. People with AS often describe something called alternating buttock pain, pain in their heels, and pain in their rib cage, for example. It can also affect your knees, neck, and other joints.
Be honest and forthcoming about your daily life and symptoms, says Hill. Dont show up to appointments looking better than you feel the last person you want to hide your symptoms from is the very person who is supposed to help treat you.
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Spinal Arthritis Causes And Risk Factors
The causes of arthritis in the back or neck vary depending on the type of arthritis you have. Besides normal wear and tear and autoimmune triggers, in many cases the exact cause remains unknown. Genetic components have been identified in connection with some forms of spinal arthritis, meaning that it may be hereditary.
Other spinal arthritis risk factors include:
Presence of certain conditions such as diabetes, gout, psoriasis, tuberculosis, irritable bowel syndrome and Lyme disease
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.
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What Did You Look For In Your Rheumatologist
I looked for a gentle, confident, wise, reassuring bedside manner, says Seth D. Ginsberg, cofounder and president of the Global Healthy Living Foundation, an advocacy group for people living with chronic illnesses.
I was interested in someone I could relate to, have a conversation with, and explain my situation to in broader terms than just my aching joints. My wife came with me during the first visit and joined us in the exam room. Her opinion mattered, too, says Ginsberg.
Udell agrees that one of the first things to consider is the doctors personality and how well it meshes with yours especially if your disease is a serious, chronic one such as rheumatoid arthritis.Thats because your relationship with the rheumatologist could be a very long one, which is one reason I went into this specialty, Udell says.
And, he notes, the doctor-patient relationship should be nurtured as time goes on. If thereâs an issue that the patient and physician donât see eye-to-eye on, for example, they need to discuss it.
Or you might want to be more aggressive about treatment options while your doctor wants to be less aggressive this is also something you two must discuss, he says.
Arthritis Treatment In Orthopedic Clinics
There are a lot of the ways doctors at orthopedic clinics work together to find you relief. Here are some of the treatments that are used to treat arthritis symptoms and slow the conditions progression. Most patients require a combination of at least 2 of these treatments for effective and long-term results.
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Learn About The Different Back Pain Specialists
When a back problem occurs, itâs typically a good idea to first consult with a primary care physician. This doctor will conduct an initial exam and, depending on the findings, he or she may refer you to a spine specialist.
If you are referred to a specialist for chronic back pain, it will likely be to one of the following:
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?
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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.
What Do Orthopedics Doctors Do
Orthopedists are specialists in the musculoskeletal system, including the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues. These specialists are trained in diagnosing and treating bone and joint disease and injuries, which may involve orthopedic surgery. Your primary care provider is likely to refer you to an orthopedist if you have joint or musculoskeletal pain from a previous injury. A primary care provider may also refer you to an orthopedic surgeon if they suspect youll need surgical treatment to correct joint pain, such as a total knee or hip replacement. Orthopedists often treat conditions such as osteoarthritis , nerve pain, sports injuries, herniated discs, osteoporosis, and many other conditions. Although orthopedics involves surgical correction of many musculoskeletal problems, being referred to an orthopedic surgeon doesnt necessarily mean you will absolutely need surgery to correct your joint pain or injury.
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