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Frequently Asked Questions

Are you looking for answers to your questions about Rheumatology and Autoimmune conditions? Check out our comprehensive FAQs, written by our expert rheumatologists.

  • What is a Rheumatologist?
    A rheumatologist is a physician who specializes in arthritis and autoimmune diseases. We are also skilled at managing osteoporosis.
  • When should you see a Rheumatologist?
    Many types of rheumatologic diseases are not easily identified in the early stages. Rheumatologists are specially trained todo the detective work necessary to discover the cause of joint swelling and pain. It is important to determine a correct diagnosis early so that appropriate treatment can begin early especially as some musculoskeletal disorders respond best to treatment in their early stages. Because some rheumatic diseases are complex, one visit to a rheumatologist may not be enough to determine a diagnosis and course of treatment. These diseases often change or evolve over time. Rheumatologists work closely with patients, their primary care physician and possibly other specialists to identify the problem and design an individualized treatment program.
  • What is an autoimmune disease?
    An autoimmune disease occurs when something is wrong with your immune system that causes it to attack your own body. The best-known autoimmune disease is Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). Rheumatoid Arthritis is a disease where your immune system sees your joints as foreign and starts attacking them and breaking them down. It can severely damage the joints if left untreated. An autoimmune disease can affect any organ system in the body. The most common system affected is the musculoskeletal system causing arthritis. However, any other organ system can be affected, such as your skin, lungs, heart, gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, liver, pancreas, eyes, and nervous system. Rarely, autoimmune diseases can be fatal. Fortunately we have a lot more treatments these days.
  • What should I expect from a Rheumatologist.
    If you’re about to see a rheumatologist for the first time, you're on the right path. Studies show the earlier you’re treated for your rheumatoid arthritis, the more likely you are to feel better sooner and stay active longer. Rheumatologists have the special training to make a treatment plan just for you. Your first visit will be part conversation, part examination. Your appointment may take a few hours, but it will be well worth the time. Because RA is a long-term disease, you'll see this doctor often.
  • Ways to make your medical visit count:
    Arrive with a list of your specific concerns. Fill out all the initial paperwork for your visit prior to arriving at the doctor's office. This will allow more time for the doctor to spend time on the most important issues at hand. Consider bringing someone with you who can listen to the Dr. and takes notes as appropriate. Let the doctor know how your symptoms are affecting your life both physically and emotionally. Don't be afraid to ask questions.
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