Rheumatologist: What They Do and When To Visit

What is Rheumatology?

Rheumatology is a field of medicine concerning the evaluation and treatment of people with autoimmune conditions and joint diseases, including arthritis, SLE. Branches of Rheumatology include clinical research, as well as clinical diagnosis, treatment, and long-term management of rheumatology diseases. The specialist who has training in providing non-surgical treatment of rheumatology diseases including autoimmune diseases and especially the many forms of arthritis and joint disease is known as a Rheumatologist.

Common Rheumatology Diseases

  • Osteoarthritis (OA)
    Unlike most rheumatology diseases, osteoarthritis is not linked to problems with your immune system. It is caused by the wear and tear or trauma related damage to the cartilage, the cushiony material on the end of your bones. As it wears down, your joints hurt and become harder to move. This disease usually affects the knee, hips, lower back, neck, fingers, and feet.

    Osteoarthritis Symptoms Include:-
  • Joint Pain
  • Joint Swelling
  • Joint Redness
  • Joint Stiffness

Muscle weakness can make your joints unstable. Depending upon which body parts it is affecting, OA can make it hard to walk, grip objects, dress-up, comb, or even sit.

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the immune system attacks your own tissues and results in joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. It is not a part of normal aging.

Rheumatology Symptoms Include:-

  • Pain and swelling in multiple joints
  • Problems in other organs such as the eyes and lungs
  • Joint stiffness, especially in the morning
  • Fatigue
  • Lumps, also known as rheumatoid nodules
  • Lupus
    Lupus is also known as SLE or systemic lupus erythematosus. This is one of the most common autoimmune-related rheumatology diseases that affects many organs in your body.

    Rheumatology Symptoms Include:-
  • Joint Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Joint stiffness
  • Rashes
  • Sun sensitivity
  • Hair loss
  • Blue or white fingers or toes if exposed to cold
  • Blood disorders
  • Chest pain
  • Seizers or strokes
  • Sjogren’s Syndrome
    This is another one of the rheumatology diseases that causes parts of your body to dry out, like the eyes or mouth. Some people also have a combination of RA and lupus. Others just have Sjogren's. The cause of this disease is still unknown, but it occurs when your immune system attacks those body parts. This is more common in women than men.

    Rheumatology Symptoms Include:-
  • Dry mouth
  • Eye irritations
  • Dry eye
  • Persistent dry cough
  • Prolonged fatigue.
  • Skin rashes or dry skin
  • Gout
    Gout is the result of a buildup of uric acid crystals in a joint. Most of the time, it is your big toe or another part of your feet.

    Rheumatology Symptoms Include:-
  • Intense joint pain
  • Discomfort
  • Inflammation and redness
  • Trouble moving

If you are suffering from any of the aforementioned rheumatology diseases, search for a “Rheumatologist near me” and consult one immediately.

What Causes Rheumatology diseases?

Most of these rheumatology diseases occur when your immune system goes awry and attacks your own tissues. Research i not able what causes this. Sometimes it is present in your genes and acts up. Other times, it is a result of something in the environment around you like smoke, pollution, or something that causes an infection. Gender also plays a crucial role, rheumatology diseases seem to affect women more than men.

When to Visit a Rheumatologist?

Everyone experiences muscle and joint pain every now and then. When the muscle and joint pain is not resolving as expected, additional evaluation may be needed. Typically, you can consult your primary care physician for an initial evaluation. If there is a concern for an underlying rheumatic condition, he/she will refer you to a rheumatologist for further evaluation.

Earlier referral should be made if you have a genetic history of rheumatology diseases or if the symptoms are significantly worsening over a short period of time. Some of the signs and symptoms can improve or temporarily resolve when initially treated but can return if the treatment and medication are stopped.

Common Rheumatology Symptoms Include:-

  • Joint pain
  • Fatigue
  • Joint stiffness
  • Rashes, including a "butterfly" rash across the cheeks
  • Sun sensitivity
  • Hair loss
  • Blue or white fingers or toes if exposed to cold

What to Expect on Your Visit to a Rheumatologist?

Sometimes rheumatology diseases are complex in nature, which makes them difficult to diagnose, so Rheumatologists try to gather the complete medical history and perform a physical exam to look for signs and symptoms of inflammation throughout the body and musculoskeletal system. Family history can prove to be significant in the diagnosis of rheumatology diseases and will also be assessed by your Rheumatologist.

How to Become a Rheumatologist?

To become a Rheumatologist, aspirants must receive five & a half years of training in M.B.B.S from medical college. After that postgraduation in Internal Medicine that is of three years is required. Further, they can pursue fellowship courses or super specializations in Rheumatology to enhance their skills.

Dr. Rishab Sharma

Dr. Rishab Sharma MBBS, MD (Internal Medicine) He is associated with Fortis Escorts Hospital, Jaipur. Dr. Rishab has wide experience in managing a variety of diseases, as well as managing critical care units in large government and corporate hospitals.

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