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About Rheumatology

Every individual experiences muscle and joint pain at various point of time. When the muscle and joint pain is not easing as one would want, a detailed evaluation may be needed. Generally, the primary care physician is seen for the initial checkup. If there is concern for an underlying rheumatic condition, he/she will refer you to rheumatology for examination.

Rheumatology is a sub-specialty of healthcare that primarily deals with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases mostly affecting the joints and connective tissues. Several auto-immune disorders affecting multiple organ systems also come under the purview of rheumatology.

A rheumatologist refers to an internist or pediatrician who possesses special skills in the diagnosis (detection) and treatment of musculoskeletal disease and systemic autoimmune conditions commonly referred to as rheumatic diseases. These diseases tend to affect the joints, muscles, and bones causing pain, swelling, stiffness, and deformity.

Autoimmune disorders happen when the immune system causes inflammation to regions of the body when it is not required causing damage/symptoms. These diseases can also affect the eyes, skin, nervous system, and internal organs. Rheumatologists treat joint disease similar to orthopedists but do not perform surgeries. General diseases treated by rheumatologists include osteoarthritis, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic back pain, tendinitis, and lupus.

Rheumatic diseases are found to be intricate in nature and hard to diagnose, so rheumatologists will collect a complete medical history and carry out a physical exam to check for signs and symptoms of inflammation throughout the entire body and musculoskeletal system. A family history can be extremely crucial to diagnosis of rheumatic disease and will also be assessed.

Rheumatic disorders include inflammatory arthritis, complex auto immune rheumatic and multi-system disease, soft tissue conditions including injuries, osteoarthritis, spinal pain, chronic pain syndromes and metabolic bone disease.

Treatment under Rheumatology

A majority of rheumatology medical conditions are treated with a combination of medicines which are often Immunosuppressant, sometimes dietary modifications (in some diseases, not all), exercises (sometimes along with support of splints/footwear modification). The concept is to manage the disease and enhance the patient’s quality of life. However long you live, you should be independent and live well. A good quality of life is very necessary. As your immunity is a part of your constitution itself, it cannot be just detached out of your body and thrown away. If done so, theoretically, the disease might be eliminated but how will you stay alive? Hence these diseases have to be treated in such a way that your immunity is suppressed to the extent that it does not harm you. It is a delicate balancing act because the suppression cannot be allowed to become so low that you succumb to other infections.

There is no permanent cure to these diseases in any branch of medicine. These diseases can only be controlled, and controlled well. These diseases are not like Malaria, Typhoid etc. that can be cured with a few days of treatment. And the role of rheumatologists is supreme and drives the way these diseases are managed.

Rheumatology is an extensive medical specialty and a range of illnesses come under its purview, since no part of the body is spared from the ramifications of the Autoimmune Phenomena. At HealBoat, we endeavor to elucidate these illnesses and to help anyone to get to know more about them.


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