Rheumatology is a subspecialty of internal medicine and pediatrics, devoted to the diagnosis and therapy of rheumatic diseases. Clinicians who specialize in rheumatology are called rheumatologists. Rheumatologists deal mainly with clinical problems involving joints, soft tissues and the allied conditions of connective tissues.
The term ”rheumatology” originates from the Greek word rheuma, meaning “that which flows as a river or stream,” and the suffix -ology, meaning “the study of.” Rheumatology is a rapidly evolving medical specialty, with advancements owing largely to new scientific discoveries about the immunology of these disorders.
Rheumatologists diagnose (detect), treat and medically manage patients with arthritis and other rheumatic diseases. These health problems affect the joints, muscles, bones and sometimes other internal organs (e.g., kidneys, lungs, blood vessels, brain). Because these diseases are often complex, they benefit from the care of an expert. Only rheumatologists are experts in this field of medicine.
WHAT WE DO?
The rheumatologist assesses:
- Signs (from a physical exam) and symptoms (what you see and how you feel), including systemic (whole body) involvement by a rheumatic disease
- Joint disorders
- Overall function, including physical, mental well-being and level of independence
- Results of advanced imaging and lab tests
- Treatment options
- Need for more assessment and treatment, such as
- referrals to other health care providers
- orthopedic aids (splint, brace, cane, etc.) or corrective surgery
- hospital stay
Rheumatologists aim to help patients with rheumatic disease to have the best possible quality of life. Toward this aim, rheumatologists advocate for the patient in all aspects of health care and in the community. We teach the patient, family and community about health information and how to live with a chronic (long-term) rheumatic disease.