Patient Education

What is a Rheumatologist?
A rheumatologist is an internist who is qualified by additional training and experience in the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis and other diseases of the joints, muscles and bones. Many rheumatologists conduct research to determine the cause and better treatments for these disabling and sometimes fatal diseases.

What kind of training do rheumatologists have?
After four years of medical school and three years of training in either internal medicine or pediatrics, rheumatologists devote an additional two to three years in specialized rheumatology training. Most rheumatologists who plan to treat patients choose to become board certified. Upon completion of their training, they must pass a rigorous exam conducted by the American Board of Internal Medicine to become certified.

What do rheumatologists treat?
Rheumatologists treat arthritis, autoimmune diseases, and various musculoskeletal pain disorders.  There are more than 100 types of these diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout, lupus, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, back pain, osteoporosis and tendonitis. Some of these are very serious diseases that can be difficult to diagnose and treat.

When should you see a rheumatologist?
If musculoskeletal pains are not severe or disabling and last just a few days, it makes sense to give the problem a reasonable chance to resolve.  Sometimes though, pain in the joints, muscles or bones is severe or persists for more than a few days.  At that point, you should see your physician.

Many types of rheumatic diseases are not easily identified in the early stages. Rheumatologists are specially trained to do the detective work necessary to discover the cause of swelling and pain. It’s important to determine a correct diagnosis early so that appropriate treatment can begin early. Some musculoskeletal disorders respond best to treatment in the early stages of the disease. 

Because some rheumatic diseases are 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. Rheumatologists work closely with patients to identify the problem and design an individualized treatment program.

How does the rheumatologist work with other health care professionals?
The role the rheumatologist plays in health care depends on several factors and needs. Typically the rheumatologist works with other physicians, sometimes acting as a consultant to advise another physician about a specific diagnosis and treatment plan. In other situations, the rheumatologist acts as a manager, relying upon the help of many skilled professionals including nurses, physical and occupational therapists, psychologists and social workers. Teamwork is important, since musculoskeletal disorders are chronic. Health care professionals can help those with musculoskeletal diseases and their families cope with the many changes the disease can cause in their lives.



Keep It With You (CDC)

In an emergency situation, people may not be able to get their medical records. The “Keep It With You” Personal Medical Information Form is intended to be a record of your health information during disasters or other similar situations. The KIWY form can be folded and kept in a wallet or purse. Please follow the link listed below to go to the CDC website to complete this form and keep it with you.



Medical Links

The educational links listed below are not related to Arthritis & Rheumatic Diseases P.C. and should be used for informational purposes only.

 For questions or concerns about the information represented within these links, please contact the organization directly.