Rheumatology is a specialty that involves the non-surgical evaluation and treatment of rheumatic diseases and conditions. Rheumatic diseases and conditions are characterized by symptoms involving the musculoskeletal system (joints, muscles and bones). Many of the rheumatic diseases and conditions affect the immune system so rheumatology also involves the study of the immune system.
A rheumatologist is a doctor who is qualified by additional training and experience in the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis and other diseases of the joints, muscles and bones. Rheumatologists are specially trained to do the detective work necessary to discover the cause of swelling and pain in the bones, muscles and joints. It’s important to determine a correct diagnosis early so that appropriate treatment can begin early. Some musculoskeletal disorders such as Rheumatoid Arthritis respond best to treatment in the early stages of the disease. Rheumatic diseases can be complex, chronic disorders and therefore long-term follow up may be necessary. These diseases often change or evolve over time and changes to the treatment plans are common. Rheumatologists work closely with patients to create plans that are acceptable to both parties.
What kind of training do Rheumatologists have?
After four or five years of medical school and a number of years of training in general medicine, Rheumatologists devote an additional four years to specialised rheumatology training.
What do Rheumatologists treat?
Rheumatologists treat arthritis, certain autoimmune diseases, musculoskeletal pain disorders and osteoporosis. There are more than 100 types of these diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout, lupus, back pain, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia and tendonitis.