What is a Rheumatologist?

A rheumatologist is an internist or pediatrician who has undergone further training in the diagnosis (detection) and treatment of musculoskeletal disease and systemic autoimmune conditions.  After a medical school, a rheumatologist completes  three years of internal medicine or pediatric residency and then completes two to three more years of subspecialty training in rheumatology. Rheumatic diseases can affect the joints, muscles, and bones causing pain, swelling, stiffness, and deformity.

Rheumatologists diagnose, manage and treat the following conditions:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematous
  • Raynaud’s syndrome
  • Sjogren syndrome
  • Gout
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Polymyalgia rheumatica
  • Polymyositis
  • Dermatomyositis
  • Vasculitis
  • Scleroderma
  • Osteoporosis
  • Bursitis
  • Tendonitis

When should patients see a rheumatologist?

Patients are usually sent to a rheumatologist if they are having joint or muscle pain, rashes, extreme fatigue, or have abnormal laboratory tests suggesting a disturbance in the immune system.  One of the most common reasons the patient needs to visit the rheumatologist is for a positive antinuclear antibody test, which is a screening blood test for autoimmune conditions.  The list above is not all inclusive though.  Because the immune system can affect any part of the body, there are many other symptoms and signs that would require an evaluation by rheumatologist.