Rheumatologists are internists who received further training to diagnose and treat diseases that affect the bones, muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments. These diseases may lead to stiffness, swelling, pain, and even joint deformities. You may receive a referral to a rheumatologist from another medical provider if you have pain that does not resolve as expected. You should especially visit a rheumatologist if you have unresolved pain and any relatives with an autoimmune or rheumatic disease.
Rheumatologists also treat systemic autoimmune diseases which are diseases that occur when the immune system attacks a person’s own body. Sometimes these diseases are known as “collagen vascular diseases,” or “connective tissue diseases.” These diseases cause inflammation which leads to pain, swelling, and organ damage.
Any area of the body may suffer when a patient has an autoimmune disease including the skin, eyes, kidneys, nerves, lungs, and heart. Inflammation from these diseases may lead to arthritis.
You will likely need follow-up appointments with your rheumatologists to help you deal with your symptoms. You will also learn valuable ways to regain function and improve your quality of life.