Information about Rheumatology
Help to get you moving
Is this pain in my knee going to go away on its own? Why am I so stiff in the morning? Why does everything hurt when I’m just sitting down? These are just a few of the questions a rheumatologist can answer.
Rheumatologists care for people with arthritis, lupus, and other issues that cause pain or affect their ability to move easily. They diagnose diseases and disorders that are rooted in the joints, muscles, bones, internal organs, and even the brain. They also assess physical ability and well-being and create a treatment plan to manage or eliminate symptoms. Our rheumatologists partner closely with primary care providers and other specialists to improve a patient’s long-term health and quality of life.
We see patients with joint-related disorders (arthritis, soft-tissue disorders), systemic autoimmune diseases, and osteoporosis. Conditions include:
- Knee arthritis
- Shoulder arthritis
- Hand arthritis
- Hip arthritis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Spondyloarthritis, including ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis, and enteropathic arthritis
- Hydroxyapatite-associated arthritis
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- De Quervain’s tenosynovitis
- Tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow
- Pes anserine bursitis
- Plantar fasciitis
- Rotator cuff tendinitis
- “Trigger finger” (flexor tenosynovium)
- Hip bursitis
- ANCA-associated vasculitides, including granulomatous polyangiitis (Wegener’s), Churg-Strauss vasculitis, microscopic polyangiitis
- Giant cell arteritis, Takayasu’s arteritis
- Hypersensitivity vasculitis, leukocytoclastic vasculitis
- Polyarteritis nodosa
Other rheumatic conditions:
- Antiphospholipid antibody syndrome
- Behcet’s syndrome
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
- Systemic sclerosis
- Undifferentiated connective tissue diseases, overlap syndromes, and mixed connective tissue disease
- Bone density testing interpretations
- Diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis
- Pain management strategies
- Ultrasound-guided joint injections
What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a pain syndrome that can cause widespread pain and, frequently, sensitivity to touch. The exact symptoms and severity are highly variable, but the pain is often chronic. The exact causes of fibromyalgia are unclear, but it can sometimes run in families. There may be a prior history of trauma or physical or emotional stress. A primary care provider may refer patients to a rheumatologist who can help make this diagnosis and distinguish it from arthritis and other autoimmune diseases. A rheumatologist can also offer treatment recommendations. Primary care providers can help provide long-term management.
How do I know if I’m at risk for osteoporosis?
Everything from your age to the types of medications you are on can impact your osteoporosis risk. Below are some of the leading risk factors for this condition:
- Age and gender: Bone mass begins to decline naturally with age, usually after age 30. Women over the age of 50 have the greatest risk of developing osteoporosis.
- Ethnicity: Research suggests that Caucasian and Asian women are more likely to develop osteoporosis. Compared with African-American women, Caucasian women are twice as likely to experience a hip fracture.
- Body type: Petite and thin women, and small-boned, thin men, have a greater risk of developing osteoporosis than individuals with larger frames and more body weight.
- Family history: If your parents or grandparents have had any signs of osteoporosis, such as a fractured hip after a minor fall, you may be at greater risk of developing the disease. Likewise, your own prior history of broken bones can be associated with an increased risk.
- Tobacco and alcohol use: Smoking cigarettes puts you at higher risk of having osteoporosis and fractures, while heavy alcohol use can lead to thinning of the bones and increase your risk of fracture.
- Rheumatoid arthritis: This disease increases your risk for osteoporosis.
- Certain prescription drugs: The long-term use of steroids, such as prednisone, has been shown to increase your risk of developing osteoporosis.
What are the treatment options for osteoarthritis?
While no treatment can reverse osteoarthritis damage, a rheumatologist may be able to help reduce your pain and improve your function and quality of life. Osteoarthritis treatments vary depending on the joint, but may include physical therapy, topical pain medications, oral pain medications, or joint injections. Your rheumatologist can work with you to develop a treatment plan tailored to your health.
I have psoriasis. Should I be concerned about psoriatic arthritis?
If you have psoriasis and joint pain or swelling, there is a possibility you may have psoriatic arthritis. Approximately 25 to 30 percent of people affected by psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis, an autoimmune disease where your body attacks and damages your joints.
Psoriatic arthritis symptoms can include:
- Joint pain, swelling, or stiffness
- Changes to the nails, such as pitting or separation of the nail from the nail bed
- Swollen fingers or toes
- Tendon pain or swelling
- Chronic back pain or stiffness
A rheumatologist can help determine if you have psoriatic arthritis or other forms of arthritis. There may be medical treatment options that can significantly improve joint pain and help prevent future joint damage.
I have gout and I keep getting gout attacks. How can I make this stop?
Gout is a painful and often debilitating form of arthritis that can start in a big toe or other joint. Often, gout attacks will reoccur and can lead to joint damage. A rheumatologist can help properly diagnosis gout by analyzing joint fluid or reviewing images. Treatment is tailored to each person and depends on their medical history, diet, and medications. In almost all cases, it is possible to successfully treat gout and bring a gradual end to attacks.