The American College of Rheumatology has a great overview of what a rheumatologist is and when you should consider seeing one.
A rheumatologist is an internist or pediatrician who is qualified by additional training and experience in the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis and other diseases of the joints, muscles and bones. Many rheumatologists conduct research to determine the cause and better treatments for these disabling and sometimes fatal diseases.
What Do Rheumatologists Treat?
Rheumatologists treat arthritis, certain autoimmune diseases, musculoskeletal pain disorders and osteoporosis. There are more than 100 types of these diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout, lupus, back pain, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia and tendonitis. Some of these are very serious diseases that can be difficult to diagnose and treat.
When Should You See a Rheumatologist?
If musculoskeletal pains are not severe or disabling and last just a few days, it makes sense to give the problem a reasonable chance to be resolved. But sometimes, pain in the joints, muscles or bones is severe or persists for more than a few days. At that point, you should see your physician.
Seeing a Rheumatologist in a Social Security case:
Seeing a specialist can often be critical in the Social Security case.
A rheumatologist can be especially helpful if you’re filing for disability because of arthritis or fibromyalgia. I have often seen Social Security reject a fibromyalgia diagnosis because the primary care provider’s records did not discuss specific findings or tender points.
A rheumatologist can do the following:
- Confirm the diagnosis
- Evaluate severity of your symptoms
- Provide an opinion of the limitations caused by the condition