Osteoporosis: Why See a Specialist?

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Osteoporosis is a complex disease that affects everyone differently. That’s why all osteoporosis patients should follow unique treatment plans tailored to their specific needs. But your primary care doctor may not have all the information you need to manage your osteoporosis successfully. That’s where specialists come in: an osteoporosis specialist, called a rheumatologist, has the right skills and insight to help you stay in control of your osteoporosis. Here’s why:

A rheumatologist completes extensive training in osteoporosis and is an expert in osteoporosis care.

A rheumatologist is a physician who specializes in treating musculoskeletal diseases and autoimmune conditions, collectively known as rheumatic diseases. These can include more than 100 different disorders, so rheumatologists must train extensively to master this area of study. A rheumatologist will have expertise in treating osteoporosis and other conditions like arthritis, gout, lupus, fibromyalgia, and more.

All doctors complete a training program called a residency after they finish medical school. But rheumatologists receive considerable training beyond that. Rheumatologists spend several additional years in a fellowship, during which they train under experienced rheumatologists and focus on patients with osteoporosis and other rheumatic diseases. At the end of this training, specialists can take a qualifying examination to become board-certified rheumatologists. Look for a doctor who is board certified in rheumatology and you’ll know you’re seeing an expert.

A rheumatologist never stops learning about osteoporosis.

The world of rheumatology is changing all the time. New treatments are coming out constantly, from drugs that specifically help women with postmenopausal osteoporosis to medications that target the root cause of arthritis. To maintain their board certifications, rheumatologists must keep up with these new developments in their field. They must complete continuing education and renew their licenses every few years, depending on the state in which they practice and other factors. By following these requirements, board-certified rheumatologists stay on top of new treatments and discoveries about the mechanisms involved in osteoporosis, so they can then provide their patients with insightful, informed, and up-to-date treatment plans.

A rheumatologist has extensive experience in treating osteoporosis.

Rheumatologists see a higher volume and concentration of patients with osteoporosis, and thus are more experienced in treating the condition successfully. Because they see lots of patients with osteoporosis, they can add real-world knowledge of the disease to their academic and clinical training. They’re able to assess how well patients respond to certain treatments, have a deeper understanding of how osteoporosis progresses over time, share insight about effectively implementing lifestyle changes, and recognize symptoms that a general practitioner may miss, among other skills.

A rheumatologist is a team player.

Rheumatologists work with teams of other health care providers who treat patients with osteoporosis and can connect patients with gynecologists, endocrinologists, physiatrists, orthopedists, dietitians, and other experts in osteoporosis management. Working with a team can help patients address all aspects of the disease and ensure success.

It’s easy to find the right rheumatologist for you.

There are thousands of rheumatologists in the United States, so how do you know which is the right doctor for you? By searching on Healthgrades.com, you can identify the best rheumatologist to help you manage your osteoporosis successfully.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Aug 20
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