It becomes tricky to know when to consult a rheumatologist, especially if you are not aware of their specialization. When it comes to addressing issues regarding bone and joint diseases, or injuries such as arthritis, osteoarthritis, and body trauma, seeing an orthopedic doctor is always advised.
So, what’s the actual role of a rheumatologist?
Before we dive in, let’s make it clear that a rheumatologist can offer expertise in several acute to chronic conditions other than rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatology is a multidisciplinary branch that has undergone a number of groundbreaking advances in treating patients with musculoskeletal diseases.
What is a Rheumatologist?
A rheumatologist is a specialist with training in diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal diseases and systemic autoimmune conditions. There are several conditions that attack the immune system, causing inflammation in some areas of the body. As a result, a person may end up suffering from swelling, joint pain, or organ damage, if not managed. In the case of systemic autoimmune diseases, a person may experience similar symptoms causing arthritis or inflammation of joints. A rheumatologist is considered an expert in treating such conditions, but he/she does not perform surgery.
When do you need to see a Rheumatologist?
When a pain-relieving medication stops showing its results, it is important to consult a rheumatologist A reference received from a primary physician directs people to rheumatologists for further evaluation. One should visit a rheumatologist if:
· Joint pain doesn’t get better, or gets accelerated with time
· Swelling, stiffness, and pain in multiple joints
· If disformation of bone is noticed with chronic pain
· If a person is diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis
· Other symptoms like fever, weight loss, and overwhelming fatigue occur
· Have a family history of auto-immune diseases
· If a close relative is suffering from psoriasis, and you suffer from common symptoms
· If joint pain, lupus, or other inflammatory diseases run in the family
· If symptoms are significantly worsening over a short period of time
In such conditions, ignoring joint pain can make adult life miserable, as inflammation of joints can become an obstacle in leading an active life. Also, bones and muscles get prone to breakage and internal injuries. Damage caused by auto-immune diseases cannot always be reversed but can be controlled and treated, if diagnosed on time. So, it is better not to delay and seek appropriate evaluation from a specialist.
If your physician has suggested you see a rheumatologist, then it’s a matter of concern. Usually, consulting a specialist comes as a last resort after others have failed in figuring out on the cause. So, instead of lingering, and waiting for pain to magically disappear, consult a specialist at the earliest.