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 .
These Doctors May Be Your Doctor For Life
Some specialists consult on your diagnosis and treatment plan, then send you back to your primary care doctor for most follow-up care. Not true for rheumatologists.
After making sure we have the right diagnosis, we obtain the appropriate lab work to make sure youre safe starting medication, and then see you every two to three months. Some people require less frequent follow-up, but we typically see patients more than their primary care doctors. In fact, we might become their primary care doctors, says rheumatologist Liana Fraenkel, MD, MPH, adjunct professor of medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine.
Treatment May Make You More Susceptible To Other Illnesses
Many medications work by lowering the bodys immune system, says Orrin Troum, MD, a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Southern California and rheumatologist at Providence Saint Johns Health Center in Santa Monica. This helps the body to stop attacking the joints, but at the same time can make you more susceptible to outside infections, like pneumonia, he says.
This does NOT mean you should stop taking your meds, but its important to know so you can take extra steps to protect yourself from germs and get treatment as soon as possible when symptoms of infections occur, he adds.
Its not just the newer biologic drugs that affect infection risk. Conventional DMARDs like methotrexate and corticosteroids to manage flares can raise your risk of infections as well. Any time your doctor prescribes you medication, its a good idea to ask about infection risk and any precautions you can take to minimize them.
You May Like: Is Krill Oil Good For Rheumatoid Arthritis
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.
Rheumatologist Vs Orthopedic Specialist
Per the American College of Rheumatology, A rheumatologist is an internist or pediatrician who received further training in the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disease and systemic autoimmune conditions commonly referred to as rheumatic diseases. These diseases can affect the joints, muscles, and bones causing pain, swelling, stiffness, and deformity.
You May Like: Is Pasta Bad For Arthritis
Meditation Is A Seriously Powerful And Underused Treatment
Most autoimmune disorders react negatively to stress so learning how to manage your day-to-day stress is huge, Dr. Levitan says. In fact, one of the first prescriptions he gives his patients is to download a meditation app and start using it regularly. Personal time and positive self-talk are also important stress reducers, he adds.
Theyll Get You On A Treatment Plan
Although there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, Medicine and treatment for RA have advanced a lot over the past few years, and we can likely prevent or stop the progression, says Dr. Cohen. Doctors typically prescribe disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs , which can alleviate symptoms and slow RA down. Sometimes, people are also prescribed nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or corticosteroids to help with pain and inflammation. And some patients receive biologics, which help prevent inflammation and joint damage in more serious cases. Youve got lots of options!
RA and Imaging: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. . Diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis. niams.nih.gov/health-topics/rheumatoid-arthritis/advanced#tab-diagnosis
RA and Risk Factors: Arthritis Foundation. . What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis? arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/rheumatoid-arthritis/what-is-rheumatoid-arthritis.php
RA and Treatments: American College of Rheumatology. . Rheumatoid Arthritis. rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Diseases-Conditions/Rheumatoid-Arthritis
Don’t Miss: How To Help Arthritis In Ankle
Pain Doesnt Improve With Rest
Rest pain is another sign your arthritis may need more aggressive treatment. Rest often goes a long way toward relief. But when this conservative approach fails, you may have a deeper problem.
If your pain doesnt get better with rest, see a doctor, says Dr. Burg. It may be time to consider medical treatment, including the possibility of surgery for severe back, hip or knee pain. In fact, most orthopedic surgeons wont operate on a person unless they have rest pain thats how much of a red flag it is.
What Kind Of Training Do Rheumatologists Have
Becoming a rheumatologist requires completing 4 years of medical school, where they receive training as a medical doctor or osteopath. Thats followed by 3 years as a medical resident specializing in internal medicine, pediatrics, or both.
To complete their formal education, a rheumatologist spends 2 to 3 years in a rheumatology fellowship, learning about chronic musculoskeletal and autoimmune conditions and how to treat them.
Once theyve completed the fellowship, the rheumatologist must pass a certification exam administered by the American Board of Internal Medicine.
Rheumatologists must take a recertification exam every 10 years. Theyre also required to take continuing medical education classes to retain their board certification.
A rheumatologist can treat any of the more than 100 known rheumatic diseases and musculoskeletal conditions and injuries, including:
- rheumatoid arthritis
- other autoimmune disorders
A rheumatologist will gather your complete medical and family history, perform a physical examination, and run certain types of testing.
Rheumatologists commonly test people for the presence of excessive antibody production for suspected autoimmune disorders. To assess musculoskeletal problems, they may order:
- CT scans
- MRI scans
All of this information helps them work with you to develop the right treatment plan for you.
Treatment may include:
Rheumatologists also can talk with you about:
Don’t Miss: Does Smoking Make Arthritis Worse
Consider Looking Into Medical Foods
Medical foods arent supplements they are specially formulated foods made for the purpose of managing a chronic disease by meeting special nutritional needs that cannot be met by normal diet alone. Unlike supplements, medical foods are usually available by prescription only and have been approved by the FDA.
If you have a lot of pain from arthritis, ask your doctor about medical foods such as Theramine, which can help decrease inflammation and pain, Dr. Yoon says.
Other Treatment Options If You Struggle With Finding A Rheumatologist
There has been a shortage of rheumatologists in America as well as many other developed countries for the last decade, and its likely to get worse before it gets better, says Vinicius Domingues, MD, a rheumatologist in Daytona Beach, Florida, and medical advisor to CreakyJoints, an advocacy, education, and support group for people living with arthritis and rheumatic disease. But that doesnt mean that you cant get good treatment from your primary care physician if thats what your situation requires. The advancement in the medical communitys understanding about the causes and the treatments of arthritic conditions, as well as the evolution of telemedicine, has allowed primary care physicians to diagnose and treat most common forms of arthritis, says Ginsberg.
Dr. Domingues also thinks there could be a positive future for telehealth, which is when patients receive health-related services and information via electronic information and telecommunication technologies.
It will never replace an in-person doctor, but it may be an option for the future. And the American College of Rheumatology has good support groups. CreakyJoints also has forums and resources that should be explored, says Domingues.
Don’t Miss: Can Arthritis Cause Eye Problems
Other Possible Causes Of Hand Pain
Hand pain is also a sign of Dupuytrens contracture, a condition in which the tissue of the palm and fingers becomes thickened and tight, causing the fingers to curl inward. Its not clear why Dupuytrens contracture develops, though those who smoke, drink a lot of alcohol, and have seizures or diabetes are more vulnerable to developing it.
Your doctor will also consider whether your hand pain could be due to carpal tunnel syndrome, says Dr. Byram. RA can be a cause of carpal tunnel syndrome, so if we see someone who has carpal tunnel, well want to make sure they dont have RA. Carpal tunnel is a condition that occurs when one of the major nerves to the hand the median nerve is squeezed or compressed as it travels through the wrist, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
What Does An Orthopedist Do
Orthopedists handle the disorders, injuries, prevention, treatment, and repair of the skeletal system and its related joints, ligaments, and muscles.
Orthopedists and orthopedic surgeons are specially trained in the diagnosis and treatment of bone and joint disease. They use an array of testing modalities to aid in diagnosis and treatment.
Read Also: How Does Arthritis Feel In Your Hands
Forget What Youve Read On The Internet: There Is No Secret Cure
More than 1 million Americans have rheumatoid arthritis, and unfortunately there is no cure, Dr. Ware says. Despite what you may have read or heard, there are no special diets, oils, secret protocols, or trial medications that can permanently banish the disease.
But while doctors may not yet be able to cure RA, the right treatment plan can help many patients achieve low disease activity or even degrees of remission. Years ago, before the sophisticated disease-modifying drugs of today were widely used, RA and other forms of inflammatory arthritis could cause severe, permanent joint damage. This is usually no longer the case for people who take these medications and see a rheumatologist for ongoing testing and monitoring. More and more biologic therapies are in development, so people who dont respond well or stop responding well to a certain medication will have more ways to target their immune system and reduce symptoms and long-term damage.
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.
RELATED: 10 Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Rheumatoid Arthritis
And, he notes, the doctor-patient relationship should be nurtured as time goes on. If there’s an issue that the patient and physician don’t 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.
Also Check: Is Arthritis And Autoimmune Disease
Rheumatologists Treat More Than 120 Different Diseases
Dont let the rheum in the name fool you. Besides rheumatoid arthritis , these doctors treat a wide variety of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases that may affect the joints , as well as other muscle or bone problems or injuries that can make your joints hurt and limit your function.
In addition to the systemic diseases, people may come to see a rheumatologist to diagnose chronic back or neck pain or for a localized joint or muscle or tendon problem such as tennis elbow or Achilles tendonitis, says Paula Marchetta, MD, MBA, president of the American College of Rheumatology. They also treat other conditions that you might be unaware of, such as osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, and Lyme disease.
Many People Believe That Having Sore Achy Feet And Legs After A Long Day At Work Is Normal This Is Not The Case
The problem people make is that they usually wait longer than they need to, or when their condition becomes unbearable before coming in to see their foot doctor or Podiatrist and this ends up causing their conditions to worsen. Visiting a Podiatrist is the first step in keeping your feet happy and pain free. Podiatrists will give you a timely diagnosis and proper treatment plan, and recommendations if any further referral is necessary.
As Podiatrists, we can help patients with a variety of foot, ankle, and lower limb conditions. Foot and ankle problems can be due to chronic medical conditions like arthritis or diabetes, but even everyday situations, such as overuse, poorly fitting shoes, and the types of surfaces you stand on, can impact your feet.
You May Like: Does Glucosamine Help Arthritis Pain
Who Can Help With My Joint Pain Or Arthritis
Your PCP will guide you in the right direction regarding which specialist you need to see in further treating your health concerns. Many health insurance plans require that a PCP first refer the patient to a consulting specialist before a visit to this specialist is covered by your medical plan.
If you suffer pain and disability due to arthritis, body trauma, injury, or an accident , an orthopedist can help. The staff at Orthopaedic Associates utilizes both cutting-edge therapies and traditional treatments to address a variety of orthopedic conditions.
For more information or to schedule a consultation, call 892-1440 or fill out our easy-to-use online appointment request form. We look forward to hearing from you.
Theyll Praise Your Proactivity
When RA is caught and controlled early enough, you may never experience complications like joint damage or changes. Thats why its so important to see your doctor at the first signs of RAjoint pain, warmth and swelling around the wrists and knuckles, and morning stiffness that lasts for more than 15 minutes, Dr. Cohen says. You did the right thing by taking action.
Also Check: Can Popping Your Fingers Cause Arthritis
Whether A Rheumatologist Has Been Your Partner In Health For Years Or Youre Pondering Seeing One For The First Time Heres Some Things To Know About These Quite Special Specialists
Heres the textbook definition of a rheumatologist from the American College of Rheumatology:
A rheumatologist is an internist or pediatrician who received further training in the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disease and systemic autoimmune conditions commonly referred to as rheumatic diseases. These diseases can affect the joints, muscles, and bones causing pain, swelling, stiffness, and deformity.
After they receive their MD or OD, rheumatologists spend three years training to become an internist or pediatrician, followed by two to three more years in a rheumatology fellowship.
Like all physicians, they are lifelong learners who take continuing medical education to keep up to date in their field especially with the emergence of new and complex treatments such as biologics.
Rheumatologists treat many similar joint diseases as orthopedists, but they dont do surgery. Many common diseases that they treat include rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, osteoarthritis, and chronic back pain, but theres a lot about rheumatology you might not know. Read on to learn more about what rheumatologists do and when it makes sense to see one.
What Education Is Required To Become A Neurologist
The education required to become a neurologist is quite grueling and requires a medical doctorate. Medical school is four years and includes courses such as medical diagnostics, disease management, and surgical practice. In the second half of a traditional four-year program, aspiring neurologists will complete practical rotations which allow them to examine and treat patients under the supervision of qualified neurologists.
Following the completion of medical school, students apply for a one-year internship which allows them to put everything theyve learned into practice under the supervision of a medical doctor.
During the internship, students will apply for a residency program, which will take three years to complete, and involves making hospital rounds and monitoring and examining patients with a supervising doctor. If a student wants to become a neurosurgeon, their residency program will be much longersix to eight years!
four broken ribs and a split bleeding spleen i still have pain on my whole left side still hurts and now my sciatic nerves are hurting i tried chiropractic it got worse do not use aggressive of any kind water therapy is helping the most
besides operation what else i have to do for saiatica
Heat therapy helps, as well as massage therapy. Make sure you also rest and avoid activities that could trigger more back pain.
Beginners yoga and Pilates are gentle exercises that can help.
I hope that helps,
You May Like: Are Bunions Caused By Arthritis