A rheumatologist (or rheumy) is a doctor who specializes in rheumatology. Rheumatology concerns with the diagnosis and therapy of rheumatic diseases. A rheumy deals with medical problems such as autoimmune diseases. These include vasculitis, pain in joints, problems in soft tissues and heritable connective tissue disorders.
A rheumy is very reliable in providing treatment for arthritis, osteoporosis, other autoimmune diseases as well as pain affecting joints. He or she is also trained in the detection and treatment of musculoskeletal diseases.
What Is a Rheumatologist?
A rheumatologist is a specialist in diseases of the joints, bones, and muscles. He is an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR). Polymyalgia is the common culprit for chronic aching and stiffness of joints in persons aged 50 and above. PMR is hard to diagnose. It usually occurs with giant cell arteritis, another rheumatic disease.
A rheumy will perform the necessary history and physical examination to a patient. This is done prior to performing blood tests to check indications of inflammation in the body. ESR and CRP are two blood tests that a rheumy will require for polymyalgia diagnosis.
Prednisone can be prescribed by a rheumy in doses between 10 and 20 mg each day. The doses will be lowered over 6 to 12 months before it is ended. The gradual lowering of dosage as suggested by the rheumatologist will prevent the recurring of the disease. Patients may be told to take Prednisone for more than 3 months. At this point of time, osteoporosis may develop. He instructs the patient to take food supplements such as vitamin D and calcium every day. He can also recommend bisphosphonate to lower the risk of bone thinning.
Polymyalgia Rheumatica Symptoms
The causes of polymyalgia are unknown. Pain and stiffness in the neck, upper arms, thighs, lower back and even of the buttocks are the symptoms of PMR. PMR patients experience symptoms immediately over a certain period for days and even weeks. PMR symptoms can also happen overnight.
Blood Tests and Treatment
Blood tests are medical procedures used by rheumatologists to diagnose PMR. An indication of abnormally increased inflammation based on erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR test) and c reactive protein (CRP test) Your rheumy will prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or low dose corticosteroids. Corticosteroids are usually prescribed in doses ranging from 10 to 15 mg of Prednisone daily. This medication will immediately relieve the pain. This is a sign that diagnosis of the rheumatologist is correct. Some patients may even be better after only one dose. They can instantly perform normal activities. The rheumatologist can consider other diagnoses if symptoms do not disappear after two to three weeks of treatment.
Other Autoimmune Diseases
Rheumatologists are also experts in treating other autoimmune diseases. For example, rheumy can treat gout which affects the big toe of the foot. It can also affect the knees and hands. He can prescribe relief for osteoarthritis, reactive arthritis, and lupus, scleroderma, Sjogren’s syndrome and myositis. The common symptom of all autoimmune disorders is inflammation. Visit your rheumatologist and get proper treatment right away.
5 thoughts on “How a Rheumatologist Can Help Treat Your Polymyalgia”
I’ve gone undiagnosed since 11/25/2014. It’s been all I can do to function and I do NONE of prior hobbies, including sex and playing piano, or even seeing family. My hands are to stiff to play well, and my groin area lost about 80% of sensitivity.Whatever the reason, I lost ALL sex drive ** My knees are super stiff; they don’t hurt at all and x-rays show nothing wrong.
My hips and buttocks often feel like they’re literally in a VISE. My arms and legs feel extremely unnatural and it’s difficult to walk or do anything. It hit me on my left side overnight and on my right side two weeks later. ** I had a FLU and Pneumonia shot 25 days prior on Halloween 2014 (10/31).
I have over 700 pages of medical records and have seen Neurologist probably 15 – 20 times.
My PCP mentioned I had the symptoms but didn’t have PMR. I’ve had extensive blood test, so maybe it was tested and I wasn’t aware.
** Other than swelling, I’ve got the symptoms 100%, ** with the RIB cages feeling like there’s a girdle or rubber band squeezing them; very bothersome!!
I stay depressed and that has about destroyed my work. I have to make money. My DOB is 8/25/49. I feel totally hopeless!
I feel guilty because I don’t feel well enough to be around anybody including Grandkids. I want to, but this whole body phenomena overwhelms my desires.
*** Any recommendations are priceless!!
** I am Diabetic and take insulin. I’m afraid of the Prednisone effects and wonder if Doctors would even prescribe it. Is there an alternative for Diabetics?
** Is there a natural “course” the PMR runs that allows it to go away??
A good rheumatologist may feel it is indicated to give a ‘trial’ of prednisilone (Steroid therapy)in the absence of abnormal blood results. In other words, a patient may present with all the symptoms but the blood results are normal. This doesn’t mean there is nothing wrong.Giving a trial of steroid in this case, is another way to diagnose. If there is a quick response to the steroid therapy then it would indicate that PMR is likely. Plus, you would get immediate relief of most symptoms and your quality of life instantly improves. This would be seen as a positive diagnosis. I have been informed that around 30% of patients with PMR have normal blood results. If no response (improvement in symptoms) to steroids after period of time(determined by your doctor) then PMR not likely and different direction required. Think the key is to see a specialist in Rheumatology that has expertise in the field.
I too have the same. I too am looking for alternatives to prednisone. I can recommend tumeric curcumin with bioperine. I’m taking 2600 mg a day and have reduced my sed rate but not my crap. I hope to find out why. Hope it helps you.
My friend has it and is in alot of pain. Since this is an autoimmune disease would not a Holistic Doctor with herbs to boost the immune system be an option?
Second possibility to go to a GNC store, buy the most recommended med to support the immune system and see if that helps.
Thirdly, look up the foods that really irritate the joints and omit them entirely from your diet. Tomatoes are one veg stated. It is the fibrin from the seeds that totally inflames the joints.
Fourth suggestion, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory meds
Last but should be first, PRAY. I had a giant sized cerebral aneurysm, prayed and did well after a craniotomy. 30 yrs ago!