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What Is a Rheumatologist Doctor?

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A rheumatologist doctor specializes in rheumatic diseases, which are chronic conditions that frequently cause pain and inflammation. These types of diseases occur when the immune system of the body mistakes its own cells for dangerous foreign agents and begins attacking them.


According to the American College of Rheumatology website, a rheumatologist doctor diagnoses and treats diseases of the bones, joints and muscles. These include arthritis, osteoporosis, gout, fibromyalgia, tendonitis, back pain, vasculitis and specific autoimmune diseases such as scleroderma, lupus and antiphospholipid syndrome.


A certified rheumatologist must complete four years of medical school, three years of training in pediatrics or internal medicine and two to three years of rheumatology training. To become board certified, a rheumatologist must pass an exam given by the American Board of Internal Medicine or the American Board of Pediatrics. A re-certification process is required every 10 years.


The initial visit to a rheumatologist may include joint examination, blood tests, x-rays and a general health assessment. After diagnosis, according to the Cedars Sinai website, treatment options may include drug therapy, pain management, joint injections, exercise, rehabilitation, lifestyle modifications or surgery.