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Just like you may visit a dermatologist for a diagnosis of a skin disease, or consult an optometrist about your eyes, a rheumatologist is specially trained to detect, monitor, and treat illnesses of the musculoskeletal and autoimmune systems.
Diagnosing Rheumatic Diseases
While little aches and pains are common from day to day, chronic conditions that are not relieved by resting or taking medication could be a signal for you to seek the help of a specialist. Oftentimes, you may want to first meet with your primary care doctor for an evaluation. If they have reason to believe that a rheumatic condition is the root cause of your pain, you may be directed to a rheumatologist. In many cases, to save time and money, or if your symptoms warrant it, you may want to seek out a rheumatologist immediately.
If your family has a history of developing autoimmune diseases, or if your pain feels like it’s progressing rapidly, you should seek medical care right away. While you may think you can live day to day with pain and aches, failing to treat rheumatic diseases could lead to the deterioration of your joints and muscles, causing permanent and irreversible damage.
What Happens During a Rheumatologist Visit?
Rheumatic conditions are anything but simple to diagnose, so rheumatologists will typically begin by asking about your prior medical history and family history to determine whether the disease might run in your family. Your rheumatologist will also perform several tests, such as a physical examination or ultrasound, to find any inflammation that may clue them in as to the location of a rheumatic illness.
Additional tests that may be performed might consist of blood tests to look for unusual numbers of antibodies, or X-Rays or MRIs to look for anything out of place in the musculoskeletal system.
How Are Rheumatic Conditions Treated?
After pinpointing the exact location and cause of your pain, your rheumatologist may take any number of actions to treat the condition. This can include any of the following: prescribing medications such as extra-strength pain relievers, visits to a physical therapist, or joint injections to help keep your joints healthy and strong. Because of the complexity and difficulty in treating rheumatic conditions, a preliminary visit to the rheumatologist may not be enough. Often, it takes multiple appointments to properly identify and treat your pain. It’s important to stay optimistic and keep trying new approaches to treating your pain.
What Do I Need For My Visit?
To assist your rheumatologist in their diagnosis, it’s important to know your prior medical history, as well as that of your family. You should make sure that your medical records, as well as any previous lab tests that you’ve had performed, are either brought with you or sent to your rheumatologist by your primary healthcare provider. You should also bring an up-to-date list of all medications that you take and any allergies to medication.
Are Rheumatologists More Expensive?
The price of a visit to a rheumatologist varies greatly due to the complexity of rheumatic conditions, the number of visits that may be required for an accurate diagnosis, as well as any tests that may be needed. Thankfully, most insurance companies or medical plans will cover most, if not all, of the cost of a visit to a rheumatologist. While specialty care co-pays are typically more costly than a visit to your regular primary care physician, an expert diagnosis and treatment of your rheumatic condition means avoidance of unnecessary tests and office visits. This will ultimately cut down on the overall cost of the condition.
Ready to Get Started?
If you’re ready to meet with an expert rheumatologist, to begin diagnosing and treating your rheumatic condition, contact CORE Medical & Wellness today at 888-521-0688 for more information, or to schedule your first appointment!
Dr. Jenny Gartshteyn is board certified in Internal Medicine and received her M.D. from New York University School of Medicine. She specializes in inflammatory arthritis and autoimmune conditions. Read her full bio here.