Who is a Rheumatologist?

A Rheumatologist is a specialist who is an expert in diagnosis and treatment of diseases affecting the joints, bones, muscles, ligaments, soft tissue and autoimmune diseases.

What is difference between a Rheumatologist and Orthopedic surgeon?

Joint diseases which can be treated with medicines, are treated by a Rheumatologist. Orthopedic surgeons specialize in surgical treatment of joints and management of fractures.

Which are the common diseases treated by Rheumatologist?

There are more than 100 different Rheumatological diseases, some of the common ones include – Rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Ankylosing spondylitis, gout, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, lupus, vasculitis and other autoimmune diseases.

What causes Rheumatological diseases?

Most Rheumatic diseases are autoimmune in nature. An autoimmune disease develops when your immune system, which normally defends your body against diseases by mistake attacks the healthy tissues and organs of your body resulting in various symptoms and diseases.

What is Rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is a common inflammatory disease that affects the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis causes severe pain and swelling in your joints, as a result, it becomes difficult to bend and use them.

Who gets Rheumatoid arthritis? Is it only old people?

Rheumatoid arthritis can affect all age groups including children. It affects people in 30’s 40’s with higher frequency over 50 years of age. The disease is 3 times more common n females than males.

What are the symptoms of Rheumatoid arthritis?

Symptoms include
1. Swelling, redness, warmth in joints
2. Stiffness in the joints worse in morning getting better with movement
3. Some people can experience tiredness, weight loss, fever.

I have general pain all over without swelling in joints? Should I still see a Rheumatologist?

Yes, there are certain conditions like fibromyalgia which cause generalized pain in muscles and soft tissue.
Patients use phrases like “I hurt all over” or “I have head to toe pain”. They also describe poor sleep and feeling tired all the time. Patients may also have difficulties with headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, or mood.

Which joints are affected in Rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis affects all joints but particularly tends to affect small joints first of hands and feet. As the disease progresses it involves the wrists, knees, ankles, elbows, hips and shoulders.

Why is it important to diagnose and treat Rheumatoid arthritis early?

If the disease is left untreated it causes significant pain and disability in the person limiting day to day activities. Also, in the future, the disease can cause significant irreversible damage to the underlying joints resulting in deformities.
With early diagnosis, treatment can be initiated with medicines which reduces pain and prevents damage in joints.

How do you diagnose Rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is a clinical diagnosis made by your Rheumatologist based on medical history and findings on physical examination. Blood tests can be ordered to look for inflammation and antibodies associated with Rheumatoid arthritis.

What is the difference between Rheumatoid arthritis and Osteoarthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease which causes inflammation in the joints whereas Osteoarthritis is the disease of “wear and tear”.
In most people with osteoarthritis cartilage in the joints can wear out because of mechanical damage from years of use.
Do not ignore bone health.Osteoporosis is a “silent disease”. It is very common in women over the age of 55 years. Most people who have osteoporosis do not know it
Until they develop a fracture. It is very important to get a bone density scan done in women to detect and treat osteoporosis effectively.

Who can get arthritis?

Anybody can get arthritis, although it is more common in females

Is arthritis hereditary?

Not exactly, depends on the genes passed on to your children, if both parents have it then children have it.

Is arthritis curable, is it life threatening?

Arthritis has types, viral arthritis is self limiting, Rheumatoid arthritis is highly treatable and we can achieve remission free periods

Do you have to follow any specific diet?

Low purine diet for gout patients, otherwise eat healthy, drink healthy and maintain optimal body weight and BMI.

Is rheumatism same as arthritis?

Rheumatism is a term used to describe inflammation of joints, ligaments, fascia covering ligaments, tendons, where as arthritis indicates only joint inflammation. But these two terms are often interchangeable.

How long do i need to take treatment?

Other than viral arthritis, and few other soft tissue conditions the treatment is lifelong.

Are steroids harmful and how long should I take them?

Overuse of any drug is harmful, Steroids are wonderful if used judiciously, Use it according to your rheumatolgist advice.

What are new modalities of treatment in rheumatis diseases?

Biologics are the newer drugs for treatment of rheumatic diseases. They are very effective and give great results in shorter duration. Must be taken under the guidance of your Rheumatologist.