Many of us may experience general and acute musculoskeletal pain from time to time that lasts for just a few days, often the result of injury or overexertion. However, when pain in your joints, muscles, and bones becomes more chronic, severe, and persistent for more than a few days, you should see a doctor. In many cases, this is where a rheumatologist and the specialty of rheumatology comes into play.
A rheumatologist is an internal medicine physician who is qualified by additional training to diagnose and treat arthritis and other rheumatologic diseases or conditions that effect the musculoskeletal system (joints, muscles, bones), as well as treating conditions affecting the immune system.
However, rheumatologists see and treat over 100 different types of rheumatologic diseases and conditions of the musculoskeletal system, such as arthritis, spondylitis, vasculitis, polymyositis and dermatomyositis, lupus, gout, and sports injuries. Many of the diseases treated do not have clear causes, which makes rheumatology a fascinating field. It takes time, along with careful and comprehensive evaluation, to arrive at an accurate diagnosis.
In the last decade, rheumatology has become a very exciting field for both rheumatologists and their patients. Significant advancements have been made in the treatment of a number of our conditions, meaning patients with rheumatologic diseases are experiencing less pain, less inflammation, less permanent damage and a better quality of life. In some cases, certain rheumatological conditions meant a lifetime of pain or difficult medications, whereas new treatment options offer more successful patient outcomes.
The role that your rheumatologist takes in your healthcare depends on several factors, including your specific condition, your lifestyle, and your overall health. Your 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 in the rheumatology field; since rheumatic diseases may last a lifetime, finding the best way to manage the condition will provide the best results. Health care professionals can help people with rheumatic diseases and rheumatologic conditions cope with the changes the diseases cause in their lives, and help them excel through proper treatment and healthy habits.
Many successful outcomes start with proper diagnosis, a sound treatment plan, a good doctor/patient relationship, and the understanding that you cannot let a condition or disease define you, as a person. To learn more about the different types of rheumatologic conditions and how a rheumatologist could help you, call Lynx Healthcare at (509) 591-0070 or for Spokane call (509) 321-4575 to request an appointment.