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.