A rheumatologist is a medical doctor who specializes in arthritis and related joint diseases. A patient is usually referred to a rheumatologist by their physician after showing symptoms of arthritis. During the physical exam, your rheumatologist will look for observable signs of arthritis such as swelling, redness, inflammation, rash, tenderness, nodules and other joint deformities. The range of motion of your joints will also be assessed. The combination of the patient’s medical history, physical examination, and diagnostic test results will help your rheumatologist decide whether or not you are inflicted with arthritis and what type of arthritis you are suffering from.
A rheumatologist possesses either a board certificate after a specialized training or after accomplishing a medical degree (M.D. or D.O.) through fellowship programs. The number of years intended for specialized training in rheumatology for postgraduate trainees in different countries could differ according to the requirements and standards of different nations.
Rheumatologists are either pediatricians or internists who are qualified after undergoing additional postgraduate training and gaining experience in the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis and other diseases of the joints, bones and muscles. Many rheumatologists also perform research to determine the cause and better treatments for these disabling and sometimes fatal diseases. Treatment methods are based on scientific research, but currently, practice of rheumatology is largely evidence based. Clinicians who specialize on this undertaking are called rheumatologists.
Rheumatologists treat arthritis, pain disorders which affect joints, autoimmune diseases, and osteoporosis including such disorders as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout, lupus, back pain, osteoporosis, and tendinitis. Most of these are very serious illnesses that are complex and can be difficult to diagnose and treat. They treat soft tissue problems related to musculoskeletal system, sports inflicted soft tissue disorders and the specialty is also interrelated with physiotherapy, physical medicine and rehabilitation of disabled patients. Patient education programs and occupational therapy are also part of this specialty.
Rheumatologists are growing in numbers in all countries due to a boost in the demand for specialists on this field because of older patients needing special treatment by a rheumatologist.