Rheumatology involves the care of patients suffering from muscle or joint problems. There are broad range of conditions which can present with musculoskeletal pain, including autoimmune conditions such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout and tendonitis. The Rheumatology Department at Citi Neuro Centre provides outpatient as well as in patient services, with an emphasis on the rapid and thorough assessment of suspected inflammatory pathology.
Rheumatic diseases occur when the immune system triggers inflammation to areas of the body when it is not needed. Some of these diseases run in families. The exact causes of the diseases are not known clearly. Researchers believe that genetics, life style choices, infection and environmental factors may play a role in their development.
These disorders are chronic and debilitating. They can involve any organ in the body. These diseases change or evolve over time. Hence more than one office visit may be required before your rheumatologist reaches a definitive diagnosis. Many of these conditions present with non specific symptoms like decreased hunger, fever, weight loss similar to non rheumatologic conditions. This creates a diagnostic challenge at initial stages. But it is imperative to recognize them in early stages as many of these life threatening disorders respond best to treatment in the early stages of disease. . Furthermore they can present as life threatening emergencies related to either underlying condition or its treatment. Prompt initiation of therapy prevents suffering and mortality associated with these conditions. The best protection from these diseases is early recognition
No two cases are similar and treatment is individualized. Treatment should aim at proper balance between disease control and potential side effects of drugs. Rheumatologists will gather a complete medical history and perform a physical exam to look for signs and symptoms of inflammation throughout the entire body and musculoskeletal system. A family history can be very important to diagnosis of rheumatic disease and will also be assessed. The rheumatologist will review the results of any prior testing that has been performed on a patient and may order additional laboratory tests to assess inflammation and/or extra antibody production within the bloodstream and order radiographic testing (X-ray, ultrasound, CT scan or MRI) to assess for musculoskeletal abnormalities.
All of these results will be combined to determine the source of a patient’s symptoms and develop a personalized treatment plan. Treatment recommendations may include medications, referral to physiotherapy, referral to other specialists, or joint/tendon injections. Some rheumatic diseases can be difficult to diagnose and may require follow up visits for the rheumatologist to fully understand the underlying process.
Depending on the nature of illness, patients with rheumatological problems may need regular reviews with the rheumatologist for ongoing management. Alternatively the primary physician may monitor treatment, with the rheumatologist on hand for specialist advice. During follow-up appointments, rheumatologists may treat reoccurring conditions or talk with patients about medications, coping mechanisms, techniques for preventing disability or regaining function, and ways to improve their quality of life.
More information on specific rheumatological disorders at Rheumatology Care India