A rheumatologist is an internist or paediatrician who received further training in the diagnosis (detection) and treatment of musculoskeletal disease and systemic autoimmune conditions commonly referred to as rheumatic diseases. These diseases can affect the joints, muscles, and bones causing pain, swelling, stiffness, and deformity. Autoimmune conditions occur when the immune system sends inflammation to areas of the body when it is not needed causing damage/symptoms. These diseases can also affect the eyes, skin, nervous system, and internal organs. Rheumatologists treat joint disease similar to orthopaedists but do not perform surgeries. Common diseases treated by rheumatologists include , , , chronic back pain, , and . Rheumatologists work mainly in outpatient clinics. Primary care providers or other physicians can refer you to a rheumatologist for an evaluation. Some rheumatologists do not require a referral from another physician for appointments to be made. Rheumatologists are typically affiliated with a hospital and will be asked to evaluate patients who are hospitalized for a rheumatic disease.
Arthritis is a common feature of many rheumatologic diseases. Other features may include unexplained fevers, various dermatologic conditions (rashes, photo sensitivity, severe acne, pigmentary changes), muscle weakness, weight loss, recurring redness in the eyes, recurring mouth sores, inflammation around the heart and or lungs (pericarditis/pleuritis), anaemia, thrombocytopenia (low platelets) and leukopenia (low white blood cells). Our paediatric rheumatology specialist did a fellowship, meaning undergoing additional training, to be able to successfully diagnose and manage paediatric rheumatic diseases. A comprehensive diagnostic evaluation precedes a specific treatment plan to help the child resume normal activities.
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