A rheumatologist is generally an internist who receives two to three years of further training in the diagnosis 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. Because rheumatic conditions are fairly pervasive throughout the population, many rheumatologists are involved in research and development of more effective diagnosis and treatments
Often the patient is referred to a rheumatologist by a primary care physician because the treatment of these conditions is complex and the precise diagnosis of conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, tendinitis, lupus, osteoarthritis, gout and many others can be extremely difficult.
When symptoms of rheumatic diseases first appear, it may take some time to determine exactly what disease or condition, if any, is the reason for the swollen joint, pain or mild discomfort. A family history is important because many rheumatic diseases can be hereditary. Diagnosis often depends on how far the disease has progressed, so be prepared for a few visits to the specialist before your physician is certain of your condition.
The severity of these conditions and diseases can vary greatly and often the rheumatologist works with the primary care physician and other specialists to offer consultation and advice on the most effective treatment plan for the patient.
Treatment can include many approaches such as; physical therapy, medications and injections, as well as education on how to best cope and live with conditions that can be chronic and eventually debilitating. However, research into the cause and possible cures is pervasive and ongoing because so many are affected by these sometimes crippling diseases. New medicines and treatments are constantly being approved and the specialists at Alabama Medical Group are on the front line in the implementation of these new therapies and medications.