What do rheumatologists treat?
Rheumatologists are physicians who specialize in the diagnosis and management of disorders related to joints, muscles, and other connective tissue. They are non-surgical musculoskeletal disease experts who deliver treatment through medication therapy, joint injections, rehabilitation, and patient education. They treat various autoimmune forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis, as well as other autoimmune connective tissue diseases, such as lupus, Sjogren’s syndrome, vasculitis, myositis, and scleroderma. Other conditions within the scope of rheumatology are osteoarthritis, gout, fibromyalgia, Lyme, bursitis; over 100 different types of disorders in total. Some of these are very serious and can be difficult to diagnose and treat.
Rheumatologists are specially trained to do the detective work necessary to discover the cause of your symptoms. It is important to determine the diagnosis early, so that appropriate treatment can be started. Some musculoskeletal conditions respond best to treatment in the early stages of the disease. However, many types of rheumatic disorders are not easily identified in the early stages. Because most of autoimmune diseases are very complex, one visit to a rheumatologist may not be enough to determine a diagnosis and course of treatment. These diseases often change or evolve over time, and may fully manifest themselves years after the onset of first symptoms. Rheumatologists work closely with patients to identify the problem and design an individualized treatment program.