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What is a rheumatologist?
A rheumatologist is a board-certified internist (a physician of internal medicine) or pediatrician who is qualified by additional training and experience in the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis and other diseases of the joints, muscles, and bones, including those that are inflammatory and autoimmune in nature.

What kind of training do rheumatologists have?
After four years of medical school and three years of training in either internal medicine or pediatrics, rheumatologists devote an additional two to three years in specialized rheumatology training. Most rheumatologists who plan to treat patients choose to become board certified. Upon completion of their training, they must pass a rigorous exam conducted by the American Board of Internal Medicine to become certified in rheumatology.

What do rheumatologists treat?
There are more than 100 types of rheumatic diseases and other conditions that rheumatologists treat, including:

  • osteoarthritis
  • musculoskeletal pain disorders
  • osteosporosis
  • gout
  • back pain
  • fibromyalgia
  • tendonitis
  • certain autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, antiphospholipid syndrome, and scleroderma, vasculitis, and myositis

When should you see a rheumatologist?
Sometimes, pain in the joints, muscles, or bones is severe or persists for more than a few days. At that point, you should see your physician.

Many types of rheumatic diseases are not easily identified in the early stages. Rheumatologists are specially trained to do the detective work necessary to discover the cause of swelling and pain. It’s important to determine a correct diagnosis early so that appropriate treatment can begin early. Some musculoskeletal disorders respond best to treatment in the early stages of the disease. These diseases often change or evolve over time. Rheumatologists work closely with patients to identify the problem and design an individualized treatment program.

Here are some reasons to see a rheumatologist:

You have been diagnosed with arthritis or a rheumatic disease
You have joint pain and/or swelling
You have been told you have certain blood test results
You are having trouble figuring out what’s wrong

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