What Is A Rheumatologist?

Posted on: 10 January 2023


If you've been feeling aches and pains that just won't go away, it could be time to see a rheumatologist. A rheumatologist is a medical doctor who specializes in diseases of the joints and muscles, as well as autoimmune diseases. They diagnose and treat arthritis, gout, and autoimmune diseases.

Here's what you need to know about what a rheumatologist does and how they can help you. 

What Conditions Does a Rheumatologist Treat?

A rheumatologist treats illnesses related to the bones, muscles, joints, and soft tissues, including issues like:

  • Osteoarthritis. The most common type of arthritis is caused by wear and tear on the cartilage in your joints.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis. A chronic autoimmune illness that causes inflammation in the membranes around the joint.
  • Gout. A type of arthritis caused by an accumulation of uric acid in the joints that leads to pain and swelling.
  • Fibromyalgia. A condition characterized by widespread pain and fatigue.
  • Lupus. A chronic autoimmune disorder that can cause inflammation in the joints, skin, and other organs.
  • Tendonitis. An inflammation of the tendons, the bands connecting muscle to bone.
  • Scleroderma. A condition that causes hardening and thickening of the skin.
  • Bursitis. An inflammation in the bursae, small sacs filled with fluid that cushion bones and muscles.

Who Needs to See a Rheumatologist?

If you are experiencing persistent joint or muscle pain that doesn't seem to improve with rest or over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen, it may be time to see a doctor for further evaluation. You may also need to visit a rheumatologist if you are exhibiting any signs of an immune system disorder, like swollen lymph nodes or unexplained fatigue. If your primary care physician suspects that your symptoms may be related to an autoimmune disease, they will likely refer you to a rheumatologist for further diagnosis and treatment options.

How Can A Rheumatologist Help You?

The main goal of any appointment with a rheumatologist will be to determine what kind of condition is causing your symptoms so they can provide you with the best possible treatment plan, including:

  • Lifestyle changes, such as limiting certain activities
  • Over-the-counter medications, like corticosteroids
  • Physical therapy

Additionally, reducing stress levels and quitting smoking can also play an important role in managing symptoms long term.

A rheumatologist can help identify what is causing your symptoms and provide you with an appropriate treatment plan. Ultimately their goal is to help reduce inflammation and manage chronic pain so that you can lead an active life without limitations.

Reach out to a clinic like Sarasota Arthritis Center to learn more.