When to See a Rheumatologist?
Diagnosing a rheumatological disease can be challenging. Skeletal and muscle pain is very common and can occur several times in your lifetime. But from the rheumatologist's point of view, such pain can occur because of an underlying rheumatological disease.
We have combined a few conditions that you should not overlook and must consult a rheumatologist instantly.
1. You are Diagnosed With Rheumatological Disease
There are more than 120 types of arthritis. If you are diagnosed with these rheumatological diseases, do not delay your appointment with the rheumatologist. Rheumatologists are expert medical professionals that take care of the following conditions:
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA); Swelling (inflammation) in multiple joints
- Osteoarthritis (OA); porous bones
- Vasculitis; swelling (inflammation) in the blood vessels
- Sjogren's syndrome; immune system disorder causing dry eyes and dry mouth
- Scleroderma; skin hardening or tightening
- Antiphospholipid syndrome (APS); a blood disease where the immune system attacks mistakenly attack a fat(phospholipid) in the body resulting in blood clots
- Myositis; swelling and pain in muscles
- Sarcoidosis, a multisystem disease that affects lungs and lymph nodes
- Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR); muscle pain and stiffness, especially in the shoulders and hips
- Other rare diseases.
2. Persistent Joint and Muscle Pain
We all get minor muscle and joint aches from time to time, but if you have persistent pain, then it is time to get an appointment. Rheumatological pain is nasty and doesn’t resolve with simple pain killers, or it may resolve but recurs if you stop taking the drug.
Rashes, fever, fatigue, morning stiffness, and chest pain, together with joint pain, also demand a visit to the rheumatologist.
3. Swelling around Joints
Any symptom suggestive of a rheumatological disease needs a rheumatologist's opinion, for instance, swelling and pain around the joints that are not related to any injury.
Rheumatoid diseases affect multiple joints causing pain, stiffness, and swelling. You should seek a rheumatologist's advice; if you have joint stiffness that lasts for more than 30 minutes or worsens in the morning after a long period of inactivity. Rheumatological diseases respond best to medication if diagnosed and treated early. Schedule a meeting with your rheumatologist if you see any such symptoms.
4. Family History of Rheumatological or Autoimmune Diseases
A family history of rheumatological or immune disorders also requires seeing a rheumatologist. This is because rheumatological diseases are hereditary and often run in families. Besides that, let your doctor know if anyone in your family has had a rheumatological disease.
5. Abnormal Blood Tests Results
Results of a few tests may require visiting a rheumatologist. Abnormal results of tests like,
- Antinuclear antibodies (ANA); a test that detects and measures the amount of ANA in a patient’s blood
- Rheumatoid factor (RF); a test that measures the amount of rheumatoid factor (a protein produced by the immune system) in the body
- Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR); a test that indirectly measures the degree of inflammation in your body
- is indicative of rheumatological disease. Therefore, your primary care doctor will likely refer you to a rheumatologist upon seeing a positive report from such blood tests.
6. Difficulty in Diagnosing a Disease
If you suffer from joint swelling or pain and have difficulty figuring out the exact cause, seeing a rheumatologist can help you. Primary care doctors often recommend consulting a rheumatologist when they cannot make a proper diagnosis. Rheumatologists are medical detectives that deal with a variety of rare diseases. Their knowledge and experience of dealing with every system help them diagnose difficult medical conditions.