4 Reasons to See a Rheumatologist

  • smiling female doctor
    Finding Answers for Complex Symptoms
    While most of us have likely heard of rheumatology and recognize it as a medical specialty area, we may find it more difficult to explain what rheumatologists do and what conditions they treat. Yet for people living with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and other musculoskeletal disorders and autoimmune conditions, a rheumatologist is a doctor they know quite well. Take a look at some of the most common reasons people go see rheumatologists, so you can better understand what they treat and how they might be able to help you.

  • holding knee
    1. You’ve been diagnosed with arthritis or a rheumatic disease.
    Rheumatologists are trained to diagnose and treat more than 100 types of arthritis and immune system diseases. They can share their expertise if you’ve been diagnosed with a musculoskeletal pain disorder, tendinitis, bursitis, nerve impingements, osteoarthritis, autoimmune conditions, lupus or other joint or immune disorders. 

  • man-with-shoulder-pain
    2. You have joint pain and swelling.
    Joint pain and swelling may seem like common side effects after a weekend of playing sports or simply getting older. While this can sometimes be the case, these symptoms could also indicate a rheumatic disease. Rheumatologists can provide the early diagnosis and treatment to ensure the best possible outcome should these symptoms reveal a rheumatic disease.

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    3. You have abnormal blood test results.
    Certain symptoms may convince your primary care physician to order blood tests to look for rheumatic diseases. Some of these blood tests include antinuclear antibodies (ANA), rheumatoid factor (RF) or erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR). If positive results occur for one or more of these tests, a rheumatologist can better determine if your symptoms point to a rheumatic condition.

  • male-patient-at-doctors-appointment
    4. You and your primary care provider can’t figure out what’s wrong.
    Rheumatologists treat complex diseases that are often difficult to diagnose. If you experience pain or other symptoms and your primary care provider can’t offer assistance or relief, a rheumatologist may be able to give you a better idea about the condition causing your symptoms.

  • No room for errors in healthcare
    Finding a Rheumatologist for You
    Working closely with a rheumatologist is one of the most important steps you can take to either manage the symptoms of your rheumatic condition or help figure out the cause of your joint pain and swelling. Think you may have a rheumatic condition? Talk with your primary care physician about whether you should see a rheumatologist. You can search Healthgrades  to find a top-rated rheumatologist near you.

4 Reasons to See a Rheumatologist

About The Author

  1. What is a Rheumatologist? American College of Rheumatology. http://www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Health-Care-Team/What-is-a-Rheumatologist
  2. Ask the Expert: When Should You See a Rheumatologist? Hospital for Special Surgery. https://www.hss.edu/playbook/ask-the-expert-when-should-you-see-a-rheumatologist/#.V5jgblc5hw8

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Sep 23
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.