Rheumatology is a subspecialty of internal medicine that involves the diagnosis and treatment of diseases including various types of arthritis. These include gout and metabolic bone disease, such as osteoporosis, connective tissue diseases and autoimmune diseases. Rheumatologists diagnose and treat rheumatic diseases with non-surgical treatment options. It offers a focused approach to developing a treatment plan aimed at slowing the progression of disease, preserving joint function and improving quality of life. A treatment plan will likely include medications, intra-articular and trigger point injections, regular exercise, a healthy diet, stress management and rest.
There are more than 100 rheumatic diseases, including degenerative conditions such as osteoarthritis; inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis; and autoimmune diseases such as lupus. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the most common type of autoimmune arthritis. It is triggered by a faulty immune system and affects the wrist and small joints of the hand, including the knuckles and the middle joints of the fingers. Treatments have improved greatly and help many of those affected. For most people with RA, early treatment can control joint pain and swelling, and lessen joint damage. Rheumatologists are experts in RA and can design a customized treatment plan for each patient.