Rheumatology is a field of medicine which deals with the study of diseases that affect joints, tendons, ligaments, bones and muscles.
A rheumatologist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal and autoimmune diseases.
Common rheumatic diseases include: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Osteoarthritis, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), Sjogren’s syndrome, Gout, Pseudogout, Scleroderma, myositis, Juvenile idiopathic arthritis, Polymyalgia rheumatica, Fibromyalgia, Spondyloarthropathies - ankylosing spondylitis (AS), psoriatic arthritis (PsA), reactive arthritis and arthritis associated with Crohns disease or Ulcerative colitis.
Common symptoms of rheumatic diseases:
Common signs and symptoms include joint pain, joint swelling and stiffness, fatigue, rashes, sun sensitivity, hair loss, blue or white fingers or toes when exposed to cold, severe dryness in the eyes or mouth, pain and stiffness in the back or muscles, anaemia, malaise, lumps or redness in skin, and problems in other organs like the kidneys, heart or lungs, recurrent inflammation in the eyes. Some people even experience recurrent fever and weight loss.
What causes rheumatic disorders?
Rheumatic disorders occur when our immune system which is meant to protect our body, erroneously attacks our own tissues. Genetic causes, factors in the environment including smoke, pollution, or infection may all play a role. Women are more affected by rheumatic disorders than men.
Why should you consult a rheumatologist?
Rheumatologists are trained in diagnosing and treating various rare and difficult to treat diseases. Auto-immune diseases such as lupus, vasculitis, rheumatoid arthritis etc. involve various organ systems apart from joints. They can be potentially life or organ threatening if not promptly diagnosed and treated.
Rheumatoid arthritis affecting hands
SLE – malar rash on face
Gout affecting big toe
Psoriasis and associated psoriatic arthritis