Our rheumatologists can alleviate the pain, swelling and stiffness caused by musculoskeletal disorders and autoimmune diseases.
What is a rheumatologist?
Our rheumatologists are board-certified internists who received specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of autoimmune diseases and conditions involving your musculoskeletal system, which includes your muscles, joints, and bones. If left untreated, some of these conditions can affect your eyes, skin, nervous system, and internal organs.
When should I see a rheumatologist?
Almost everyone experiences muscle pain or joint stiffness at some point. But when you experience pain, stiffness, and swelling that just won’t go away or gets worse, it may be time to talk to your doctor about seeing a rheumatologist.
While each condition has its own set of symptoms, common signs of rheumatological disease include:
- Persistent joint pain
- Swelling your joints
- Morning joint stiffness that lasts at least an hour or so
- Chronic pain or tenderness in your joints
- Warmth and redness in the joint area
- Limited movement or range of motion
- Ongoing fatigue
What should I expect at my first rheumatology visit?
Autoimmune and rheumatic diseases can be complex and sometimes difficult to diagnose. Your rheumatologist will be your detective, searching your symptoms, imaging, bloodwork and medical history for clues.
Your doctor will give you a physical exam to look for signs of inflammation, pain and tenderness throughout your body. Your rheumatologist will also take a thorough family medical history as some autoimmune and rheumatic diseases run in families.
You may also be scheduled for lab tests or imaging, such as ultrasounds, CT scan or MRI to look for abnormalities, inflammation or other markers of musculoskeletal disease.
Your rheumatologist will keep looking for answers while you get a personalized treatment and disease management plan that may include:
- Physical or occupational therapy
- Coping mechanisms
- Diet and nutrition advice
- Techniques to improve your quality of life
Autoimmune and musculoskeletal conditions.
Signs and symptoms of autoimmune and musculoskeletal disorders vary by condition and also by individual.
This condition causes arthritis in your spine. Symptoms may vary, getting worse during flares and better during periods of remission.
- Lower back and hip pain
- Swelling and stiffness along the spine
- Pain, swelling and stiffness in other joints in your body
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder that causes widespread pain, tenderness and fatigue.
Other symptoms include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Morning stiffness
- Painful menstrual periods
- Tingling or numbness in the hands and feet
- Problems with memory or thinking
Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis that typically affects the toes, lower limbs and, in severe cases, the kidneys. The symptoms often flare for a week or two and then resolve for a time.
- Pain, swelling and stiffness in the affected joints
- Redness and warmth near the affected joints
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and tissue damage. The severity can range from mild to serious and the damage can occur in several parts of the body, including your skin, joints, heart, lungs, kidneys and brain.
The symptoms, which can flare and then go into remission, vary from person to person. They can include:
- Painful and swollen joints
- Morning stiffness
- Hair loss
- Sores in the nose or mouth
- Swelling in the legs or around the eyes
- Pain when breathing deeply or lying down
- Headaches and dizziness
- Stomach pain
This chronic skin condition most often occurs on the scalp, elbows or knees, though the tough scaly patches can also show up on your midsection, arms, hands, legs and feet.
- Patches of thick, red skin that itch or burn. The patches may appear to have white scales on them
- Dry, cracked skin that itches or bleeds
- Thick, ridged and pitted nails
People with psoriasis are at a higher risk of developing psoriatic arthritis, a related condition that causes stiff, swollen and painful joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis, often called RA, is an autoimmune disorder that attacks otherwise healthy joint tissue. RA can affect any joint, but it is most common in the hands, wrists and feet.
- Joint pain, tenderness and swelling
- Joint stiffness that lasts longer than 30 minutes in the morning or after resting
- Fatigue and having low energy
- Low-grade fever
- Loss of appetite
This autoimmune condition causes your immune system to attack connective tissue such as skin, tendons, ligaments and cartilage. Localized scleroderma affects only your skin and tissue directly under your skin. Systemic scleroderma can affect blood vessels and your internal organs.
- Patches of thick, hard skin
- The patches may be firm and oval-shaped or thick lines of discoloration that run down your arms, legs or forehead
This autoimmune disease affects the glands in your body that create necessary moisture, such as tears and saliva.
- Dry eyes that burn or itch
- Blurry vision or sensitivity to light
- Dry mouth with a chalky or cotton feeling
- Trouble swallowing, speaking or tasting
- Dental decay and mouth infections caused by the lack of saliva