A rheumatologist receives intensive training in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions that affect the bones, joints and muscles. These conditions, often called rheumatic diseases, can lead to several serious problems. These include severe pain as well as deformities, swelling and stiffness.
Rheumatologists Undergo Extensive Training
Rheumatoid arthritis and similar diseases — such as gout, tendinitis, lupus, osteoarthritis and others — typically occur when the body’s immune system inflames areas where inflammation is not needed. This can result in serious, debilitating damage. A rheumatologist treats these diseases in a manner similar to an orthopedic specialist but does not perform surgical procedures.
In order to become a rheumatologist, a person must undergo four years of medical education and then go through three years of further training as a pediatric or internal medicine resident. Once residency is complete, he or she must then serve a fellowship in rheumatology that lasts two or three years. This fellowship will include education regarding the treatment of a wide range of autoimmune and musculoskeletal conditions.
But a person will still not earn the title of rheumatologist until successfully passing an examination to earn board certification in rheumatology. He or she will then have to retake the exam every 10 years, all the while participating in continuing education courses each year.
When to Visit a Rheumatologist
While just about everyone suffers aches and pains sometime, you should see a rheumatologist if your discomfort either doesn’t go away or becomes so severe it interferes with your quality of life. Your primary care doctor will refer you to a rheumatologist if your symptoms show you may have a rheumatic disease. The earlier you undergo treatment for this type of disease, the better your chances of being able to live a normal life.
The rheumatologist will very likely ask you several questions so he or she can determine the most accurate diagnosis possible. For instance, the doctor will want to know what types of symptoms you are experiencing and how often you experience them. He or she will also want to know what area of your body is affected and will also ask you to describe the pain.
It is very important you are as straightforward as possible and answer all of the questions as truthfully and completely as you can. Tell the doctor when your symptoms started and how they have changed over time. Find out what kinds of health problems run in your family and bring a list of all medications you are taking — even over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, ointments and supplements. If possible, bring any recent test results and X-rays from other doctors.
If you would like to speak with a rheumatologist with Regional Orthopedics, call 718.477.5479 or contact us online. Our experts provide a wide range of services to patients throughout the New York City, Jersey City and Hoboken areas. We offer cutting edge, technology-driven treatments and are passionate about helping our patients get back to normal as quickly as possible. Get in touch with us today to schedule an appointment or to learn more about how we can help you or a loved one.