Skin and Bone: A Detailed Look into the Practice of Rheumatology

by / ⠀Blog / August 24, 2022
rheumatology xray doctors

There are many specializations in the medical field. You can be a general practice doctor and treat all sorts of illnesses, or you could specialize in a certain area of medicine, like cardiology or surgery. Rheumatology is one of the medical specialties that focus on the treatment of conditions related to the immune system, such as arthritis.

Rheumatologists are doctors who specialize in treating rheumatic diseases and other disorders of the musculoskeletal system. They can help people with conditions like juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA), ankylosing spondylitis (AS), psoriatic arthritis (PA), and Graves’ disease.

What Does a Rheumatologist Do?

A rheumatologist usually works with other specialists to diagnose and treat patients with rheumatic diseases; pains and illnesses that originate in regions like the joints, muscles, and tendons. Rheumatologists can perform tests to determine the cause of a patient’s symptoms, prescribe medications, or recommend treatments such as physical therapy or surgery.

Pursuing a Career in Rheumatology

There is no one “right” way to become a rheumatologist. However, if you’re interested in this medical field, you’ll need to complete an undergraduate degree in a medical field, followed by an additional stint in medical school.

It’s important to study for and pass the rigorous USMLE Step 2 exams. After that, you’ll need to complete a residency program that will teach you how to diagnose and treat rheumatic diseases. You can also find fellowship programs that focus specifically on rheumatology; these programs might require achieving specific milestones in your career, like becoming board-certified or conducting research.

Where Can Rheumatologists Work?

Rheumatologists have many career opportunities but typically work in hospitals and clinics. They diagnose and treat rheumatic diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and psoriatic arthritis. Rheumatologists also commonly provide care for people with joint pain and other associated symptoms.

Telemedicine and Face-to-Face Care

Rheumatologists are increasingly using telemedicine to provide care to patients who can’t travel to see them in person. This technology enables rheumatologists to diagnose and treat patients remotely, which can be helpful for people who have limited mobility. In addition, rheumatologists often offer face-to-face care to patients who live far from their clinic or hospital.

If you’re the entrepreneurial type,  you might also consider opening your own practice. Being a business owner can be rewarding, and it can be a great way to help people with rheumatic diseases. There are many different types of practices available, so you’ll need to research them before you start.

Rheumatology and Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis is a type of rheumatoid arthritis that affects the skin. People with psoriatic arthritis often experience pain, redness, and swelling in the skin over the joints and other areas of the body. Psoriatic arthritis is very common, affecting about 1 percent of people with rheumatoid arthritis. The condition can be difficult to treat and can lead to serious health problems, including heart disease and stroke.

Rheumatologists treat psoriatic arthritis in a variety of ways, including with medications, physical therapies, and surgery. Some people may also need to take anti-inflammatory drugs for the rest of their lives.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that results in inflammation of the joints. Symptoms may include joint pain, stiffness, and limited movement. RA is most common in adults but can also occur in children and young adults. There is no cure for RA, but treatments can help relieve symptoms.

There are several types of RA, each with its own set of symptoms and treatment options. Classical RA is the most common form and typically affects the hands, feet, and wrists. It usually progresses over time until it becomes severe. In contrast, juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), which accounts for about 60% of all cases of RA, affects the knees only occasionally or not at all. In polyarticular JIA (PA-JIA), more than one joint is affected. Early diagnosis and aggressive treatment can lead to a good prognosis for patients with PA-JIA.

Despite advances in treatment over the past few decades, RA remains a difficult disease to manage due to its complex causes and widespread effects on various body systems. Ongoing research efforts are aimed at developing new therapies that will improve patient outcomes.

This is another disease that a rheumatologist doctor treats.

Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a disease that primarily affects the spine. The spine can become rigid, restricting movement and causing severe pain. AS is often accompanied by other medical issues, such as joint pain and difficulty breathing. There is currently no cure for AS, but treatment options include medications, surgery, and physical therapy.

For a rheumatologist,  the main goal is to find the cause of the disease with a series of tests like x-rays and MRIs. Once the cause is identified, the rheumatologist may recommend treatments to help relieve symptoms.

Crohn’s Disease and Rheumatology

Crohn’s Disease (CD) is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects the intestine. It is characterized by inflammation, ulceration, and lamina propria cellular infiltration in the bowel wall. The cause of CD is unknown, but it is believed to be a combination of environmental and genetic factors. There is no cure for CD, but medications can help manage symptoms.

These are just a few of the conditions that a rheumatologist can treat. They also specialize in diagnosing and treating other rheumatic diseases – conditions caused by the inflammation of joints.

If you are pursuing a career in the medical field, a career in rheumatology may be a good choice. It’s helpful to have a comprehensive glimpse into what rheumatologists do and how they approach their work.

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