Rheumatology is the field of medicine that is concerned with the evaluation and treatment of people with autoimmune conditions and joint diseases, involving arthritis. Branches of rheumatology include basic research and clinical research, as well as clinical diagnosis, treatment, and long-term management of patients with these diseases.
A rheumatologist is a subspecialist in the nonsurgical treatment of rheumatic illnesses, including autoimmune diseases and particularly the many forms of arthritis and joint disease.
Classical adult rheumatology training involves four years of medical school, one year of internship in internal medicine, two years of internal medicine residency, and two years of rheumatology fellowship training. There is a subspecialty board for rheumatology certification, offered by the American Board of Internal Medicine, which could provide board certification to approved rheumatologists.
Pediatric rheumatologists are physicians who specialize in providing comprehensive care to children (as well as their families) with rheumatic diseases, including autoimmune diseases, and especially arthritis. Pediatric rheumatologists are pediatricians who have completed an additional two to three years of specialized training in pediatric rheumatology and are generally board certified in pediatric rheumatology.
Rheumatologists have special interests in an unexplained rash, fever, arthritis, anemia, weakness, weight loss, fatigue, joint and muscle pain, autoimmune disease, and anorexia. They usually serve as consultants, acting like medical detectives for other doctors.
Rheumatologists have particular skills in the evaluation of the over hundred forms of arthritis and have a special interest in:
As well as soft tissue rheumatism like:
Be ready for questions about your health history for your visit with the rheumatologist. They will want to know about the history of your main complaint, including how long the symptoms and signs have been happening, what situations or actions make the symptoms and signs better or worse, how intense the symptoms and signs are, what functions are impaired by the symptoms and signs, stiffness, pain, swelling, warmth, tenderness, fever, chills, weight loss or gain, sweats, tremor, tingling, numbness, breathing impairments, palpitations, and more.
They will need to know what particular home remedies, medicines, and therapies you have already tried and how they affected you. They will want to know your family background and past medical history, as well as underlying medical diseases and conditions. They will also need to know the names of each of your treating doctors. Bring all of your previous testing results with you.
After your medical history is reviewed with the doctor, be prepared to have a thorough exam. You might still require further blood testing, X-rays, scans, or even additional surgical and/or medical consultants and rheumatology follow-up visits to get to a proper diagnosis and optimal treatment plan.
It could be helpful to bring a family member along. Because many rheumatic conditions can be complex medically, may require severe medicines that can have side effects and need monitoring testing, and because the conditions can affect the day-to-day functioning of the patient in the family environment, doctors will usually welcome the presence of the family member.
By being present when the condition is explained, the required tests are described, and the treatment options and side effects are reviewed, the family member can help the patient in understanding the game plan while they are allowed their own optimal understanding of the situation that will be confronting the family.
If you or anyone you know is suffering from autoimmune diseases or conditions, our expert providers at Texas Specialty Clinic will take care of your health and help you recover.