What Should You Know About Seeing A Rheumatologist?

In some cases, pain is fleeting. When you pull something playing a sport or stub your toe, you may have some pain until your injury heals. In other cases, pain can be ongoing. Chronic pain can be responsible for a severe decline in quality of life. If you've been experiencing pain for longer than a week, you should see your doctor about it. After performing some tests, your doctor may decide to refer you to a specialist called a rheumatologist. Here are a few things you should know about this type of doctor:

1. They are doctors who specialize in autoimmune conditions that affect the body.

Rheumatologists commonly treat rheumatoid arthritis, a type of arthritis that is caused by an autoimmune disease. However, they also treat other autoimmune conditions. If you have lupus, gout, tendinitis, or other types of arthritis, your doctor will probably refer you to a rheumatologist. In addition to studying general medicine, rheumatologists put in extra years of study that will allow them to treat and heal pain in your joints, muscles, and bones. This means they're the doctors who are best equipped to help you with your problems.

2. They will carefully examine your medical history.

In order to find and treat the cause of your pain, your rheumatologist will need to get to know your medical history. If you've been referred from your primary care physician, your doctor will have also sent a copy of your medical records. A family history of rheumatic diseases or arthritis may make you more likely to suffer from similar conditions, so make sure you let your doctor know about your family history. Your rheumatologist will take into account any recent injuries and medication you are currently taking.

3. They will conduct a physical examination.

Even if you've already been examined by your primary physician, your rheumatologist will conduct their own exam. They will ask where you experience pain and pay careful attention to those parts of your body during the examination. In particular, your rheumatologist will look for places where your body is inflamed since rheumatic diseases commonly cause inflammation.

4. They may run additional tests.

In addition to checking your body manually, your rheumatologist will take a blood test to see if your white blood cells are elevated. Elevated levels of white blood cells indicate an immune system response that could signify autoimmune disease. They may also want to take x-rays to rule out injuries as the cause of your pain.

To learn more about rheumatologists, contact a clinic in your area like the Sarasota Arthritis Center