Tips & Advice
What is lupus?
Lupus is similar to rheumatoid arthritis in that it is caused by the immune system attacking healthy tissues. But lupus is distinguished by its much broader pattern of symptoms that can affect multiple organs. Lupus presents in so many different ways that it is often mistaken for other diseases. It is thought to be triggered by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, but is not contagious. There is no known cure for lupus, but it can be managed through a combination of drugs and dietary changes.
Tendonitis is inflammation of a tendon, which are the tissues that connect muscles to bone. This can be acute or chronic in nature and often results from overuse, and is one of the most common injuries seen in athletes. Tendonitis often resolves on its own after rest and over-the-counter pain medication, but severe or frequent occurrence might require physical therapy, orthotics and lifestyle modifications.
Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by chronic pain and discomfort throughout the body, as well as a heightened sensitivity to pain. There are many other conditions that may cause these symptoms, but fibromyalgia is unique in that the symptoms have no apparent physical cause. Fibromyalgia is frequently seen in people who also suffer from depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder. Treatments might involve treating these primary conditions, taking medications, or certain lifestyle changes.
Osteoporosis describes the tendency for bones to become increasingly weak with age in some people. This weakness increases the chance of suffering a fracture, and may also cause chronic pain and immobility. People of European or Asian descent are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis, as are women. Osteoporosis is difficult to treat once it is diagnosed, but it can be prevented by eating a healthy diet and taking certain dietary supplements for those who are at greater risk.
What is rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks joint tissue. As a result, joints become swollen and increasingly painful, making movement difficult or impossible. It is not known what exactly causes rheumatoid arthritis, but it is believed to be related to both genetic and environmental factors. Treatment involves special medications as well as surgery.
Gout is a rheumatic disease caused by elevated levels of uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is a normal byproduct of human metabolism that is normally filtered out by the kidneys and excreted in urine. Several primary conditions, like kidney failure and diabetes, can lead to uric acid buildup, which forms small crystals in the joints resulting in pain, swelling and inflammation. Treatment of gout usually involves treating the underlying cause.
What happens during an appointment with a rheumatologist?
Rheumatic diseases are complicated and often affect multiple parts of the body. A rheumatologist will begin an initial examination by first reviewing the patient’s full medical history, along with a comprehensive physical exam. Medical imaging procedures, including X-rays, ultrasound, CT scans or MRI, can be used for a more in-depth assessment. Family history of rheumatic diseases is also vital to diagnosis and treatment, so a rheumatologist will likely ask the patient questions related to this.
With enough information gathered, the rheumatologist can begin developing a personalized treatment plan for the conditions they observe. This often includes a combination of medications and physical therapy. They may also refer patients to additional specialists for follow-up examinations.
How much does it cost to see a rheumatologist?
As with other specialist physicians, costs and health insurance coverage may vary. Patients typically spend $1,000- $5,000 per year out of pocket on these doctor visits. When factoring in co-pays for other doctors, as well as prescription co-pays, device costs, travel expenses and other related spending, those costs increase to $5,000-$10,000 out of pocket per year.
What types of conditions does a rheumatologist treat?
Rheumatic diseases comprise a broad category of conditions related to joint and bone pain. Arthritis is the most common condition that rheumatologists treat. They also specialize in more specific forms of arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis, as well as separate conditions like gout, tendonitis, lupus, and fibromyalgia.
What is a rheumatologist?
A rheumatologist is a physician who specializes in the study and treatment of rheumatic diseases, which involve inflammation of the joints and connective tissue throughout the body.