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Assessment of a patient by a physician.
What are the skills and knowledge required for this job?
What are the duties and responsibilities of this job?

An adult rheumatologist is an internist who received further training in the diagnosis (detection), and treatment of musculoskeletal disease and systemic autoimmune conditions commonly referred to as rheumatic diseases. These diseases can affect the joints, muscles, and bones causing pain, swelling, stiffness, and deformity.

Autoimmune conditions occur when the immune system sends inflammation to areas of the body when it is not needed causing damage/symptoms. These diseases can also affect the eyes, skin, nervous system, and internal organs. Rheumatologists treat joint disease similar to orthopedists but do not perform surgeries. Common diseases treated by rheumatologists include osteoarthritis, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, tendinitis, and lupus.

The hallmark of most rheumatic diseases is inflammation that affects the connecting or supporting structures of the body. Often, this means the joints, but inflammation can also impact the tendons, ligaments, bones, muscles, blood vessels, and organs. Accurate diagnosis and patient-specific treatment can reduce symptoms and reduce long-term severity and loss of function related to rheumatologic diseases.

1. Rheumatologists treat more than 120 different diseases
2. They are medical detectives
Your primary care physician may send you to a rheumatologist as a last resort after no one else has figured out what’s going on.
3. These doctors may be your doctor for life
4. Rheumatologists won’t be in the operating room
5. A rheumatologist may change your diagnosis along the way
The diagnosis your primary care doctor has in mind may not be what your rheumatologist determines.
6. They are specialists who like what they do
According to a 2018 survey, if rheumatologists had it to do over again, four out of five them would choose to be a doctor and three out of four would choose the same specialty. That satisfaction may be because they can see the impact they make on patients’ lives and well-being.
7. A rheumatologist shortage is looming

There are about 5,000 practicing rheumatologists in America

Conditions Treated

Ankylosing Spondylitis
Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome
Behcet’s Disease
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Crohn’s Disease/Ulcerative Colitis related arthritis
Crystal induced arthritis – gout/pseudo-gout/CPPD
Epicondylitis – medial/lateral
Familial Mediterranean Fever
Giant Cell Arteritis
IgG4-Related Disease
Infection related inflammatory arthritis
Inflammatory Bowel Disease related arthritis
Inflammatory myositis
Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
Mixed Connective Tissue Disease
Paget’s Disease of the Bone
Periodic Fever Syndromes
Polymyalgia Rheumatica
Psoriatic Arthritis
Raynaud’s Phenomenon
Reactive Arthritis
Reiter’s Syndrome
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rotator cuff disorders
Sjogren’s Syndrome
Takayasu’s Arteritis

When to See a Rheumatologist

Do ask about seeing a rheumatologist if you:

Have joint pain that doesn’t get better or involves multiple joints
Have joint pain and you have close relatives with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or other inflammatory disorders
Have joint pain and you have a close relative with psoriasis, even if they never had arthritis
Have joint pain accompanied by symptoms such as fever, overwhelming fatigue, weight loss, or malaise

Don’t put off seeing a rheumatologist because you:
Aren’t in much pain. “The amount of pain doesn’t necessarily predict who will have rheumatoid arthritis. Some people mostly have stiffness and not much pain, but if there is joint swelling it’s important to be evaluated,” says Dr. Fraenkel. Are scared of taking medication. “Some people are afraid a rheumatologist will prescribe something they don’t want to take.
Here are further guidelines.
Last Updated: October 22, 2021