When Do You Need to See a Rheumatologist?

When Do You Need to See a Rheumatologist? | Dr. Ali Ghahary

If you’ve ever suffered from an autoimmune disease, musculoskeletal pain disorder, osteoporosis or arthritis, then you may need to see a rheumatologist. A rheumatologist is a type of medical doctor who specializes in over 200 different types of these diseases. Dr. Ali Ghahary has outlined some of the most common below.

Autoimmune Diseases
When the body gives off an abnormal immune response, this is generally the result of having an autoimmune disease. When it comes to autoimmune diseases, almost any area of the body can be affected including the skin, eyes, nervous system, as well as internal organs. Common autoimmune diseases include inflammatory bowel disease (also known as IBD, but differs from IBS), multiple sclerosis (also known as MS), Grave’s disease, Celiac disease, and systemic lupus erythematosus.

There are typically three characteristics that characterize an autoimmune disease, and they include damage and/or destruction of tissues, altered organ growth, and altered organ function. Autoimmune diseases are oftentimes chronic, not to mention debilitating, and in some cases can even be life-threatening. However, in other cases, symptoms of many autoimmune diseases (such as low-grade fever and fatigue) will sometimes come and go.

What causes an autoimmune disease isn’t one-hundred percent known, but some autoimmune diseases may be hereditary, while others may be triggered by things like infections as well as environmental factors. When it comes to actually treating an autoimmune disease, things like NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and immunosuppressants are usually recommended – not as a cure for the disease, but as a way to relieve some of the symptoms associated with it.

Musculoskeletal Pain Disorders
There are hundreds of musculoskeletal pain disorders – also known as MSDs – that a patient can be diagnosed with, and they are typically characterized into two categories: Specific and non-specific.

Specific musculoskeletal disorders include fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, juvenile arthritis, and gout. Specific MSDs can have a major, negative impact on one’s ability to carry out their day to day activities. These are considered chronic and progressive rheumatic diseases and are usually handled by a rheumatologist along with general practitioners/family physicians like Dr. Ali Ghahary.

Non-specific musculoskeletal disorders may include things like back pain and upper limb disorders. A non-specific MSD can be triggered by many things or triggered by nothing specifically. They can also manifest themselves in many different ways and cause the patient to become incapacitated (i.e. unable to work, go to school, or take part in other social functions) for prolonged periods of time.

We’ve all suffered from muscle or joint pain every now and then, but when it persists and is severe, this may be an indication of an underlying condition and could require a referral to a rheumatologist. Because rheumatic diseases can sometimes be difficult to identify during the early stages, a rheumatologist is someone who is well-trained and adept in evaluating and diagnosing a patient’s symptoms, and will be able to help you come up with an appropriate treatment plan.