Know Your Specialists: Rheumatologist

It’s normal to feel occasional pain in joints, muscles, or bones. A rigorous workout, sleeping in an awkward position, or heavy lifting during a move might cause discomfort that won’t necessarily have long term effects, for example. While normal pain in the joints, muscles, or bones typically goes away on its own in a matter of days this isn’t always the case. Don’t ignore chronic or lasting musculoskeletal pain. A rheumatologist can determine the source of the condition, and help treat your symptoms. 

What is a rheumatologist?

Rheumatology is the study, diagnosis, and treatment of musculoskeletal and rheumatic diseases. Rheumatic diseases are systemic autoimmune disorders that affect joints, tendons, ligaments, bones, and muscles. Some rheumatic diseases can affect internal organs as well.

A rheumatologist specializes in detecting, preventing, and treating these disorders.

According to the National Institute of Health, there are over 100 rheumatic diseases that affect more than 46 million Americans. Conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system can cause inflammation, stiffness, redness, swelling, and pain. Sometimes these symptoms just cause discomfort, and other times they may limit mobility or be debilitating. Rheumatic diseases are usually chronic conditions which means that they get progressively worse over time.

A rheumatologist must complete four years of medical school, a three year residency in internal medicine and/or pediatrics, and a rheumatology fellowship.

What does a rheumatologist do?

Rheumatologists help patients by diagnosing rheumatic diseases and musculoskeletal conditions, helping prevent or slow the progression of these conditions, and helping manage or treat their symptoms.

Some of the conditions that rheumatologists help treat include:

  • Bursitis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Lupus
  • Myositis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Tendinitis

Rheumatologists don’t just identify rheumatic diseases; they offer treatment options as well as advice and counseling for the management of symptoms.

This may include techniques such as physical therapy, surgery, or medication. If surgery is necessary, your rheumatologist will refer you to a surgeon. A rheumatologist might offer suggestions for lifestyle changes – such as exercise and diet – to help you manage your symptoms.

Chronic conditions cannot be cured. This means that it’s important to prevent progression of chronic rheumatic diseases, and actively manage the symptoms.

Rheumatologists in Northwest Arkansas

Look no further than Fayetteville Diagnostic Clinic for a rheumatologist in NWA. Fayetteville Diagnostic Clinic recently welcomed a new rheumatologist in Dr. Song Zang! If you experience chronic or lasting pain in your joints, bones, or muscles, talk to your MANA provider for a referral.