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  • Writer's pictureJessica Frizzell, PA-C

Should You See a Rheumatologist?

Have you considered scheduling an appointment with a rheumatologist, but feel unsure whether that’s the right decision for you? Let’s explore some questions that can help you determine whether a visit with a rheumatologist might be beneficial.

What is a rheumatologist?

The American College of Rheumatology defines a rheumatologist as: “an internist or pediatrician 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.”

How is a rheumatologist different from other physicians?

A rheumatologist is a specialist. They diagnose and treat conditions that involve musculoskeletal disease and systemic autoimmune conditions. These rheumatic diseases typically result in joint, bone and muscle pain. If you are experiencing this type of pain that is not resolving or worsening, your primary care doctor may send a referral to a rheumatologist that can complete a more in-depth evaluation. Their expertise and knowledge can help you determine the cause of your pain in order to receive proper treatment and care.

When should you see a rheumatologist?

Because rheumatic diseases can lead to permanent and irreversible damage, it is important to meet with a rheumatologist if you suspect your muscle or joint pain is abnormal. An article on states:

“If the pain you’re experiencing gets worse over a short period of time, that’s a good indicator that you should see a rheumatologist.

Likewise, if your symptoms decrease with initial treatment, like pain medication, but return once the treatment stops, it may be time to seek out a specialist.

You may want to schedule an appointment with a rheumatologist if you:

  • experience pain in multiple joints

  • have new joint pain that’s not related to a known injury

  • have joint or muscle pain accompanied by fever, fatigue, rashes, morning stiffness, or chest pain

  • have muscle pain with or without other symptoms

  • are over age 50 and have new recurring headaches or muscle aches

What conditions do rheumatologists treat?

There is an extensive list of diseases that rheumatologists provide care for, including but not limited to:

  • Lupus

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

  • Osteoarthritis

  • Psoriatic arthritis

  • Scleroderma

  • Sjogren’s syndrome

  • Gout and pseudo-gout

  • Tendinitis

  • Vasculitis

  • Ankylosing spondylitis

Why is seeing a rheumatologist important?

Rheumatic diseases are complex and may even be difficult to diagnose. But one thing is for certain, seeking the guidance of a rheumatologist is vital to your overall health and wellbeing if you have a musculoskeletal disease or systemic autoimmune condition.

Still unsure whether visiting a rheumatologist is the best fit for you? Our team at Paducah Rheumatology will take the time to listen to your concerns and help you understand whether our specialty care is right for you!

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