Rheumatology refers to a series of disorders that affect the joints, muscles and bones. Doctors that treat rheumatology disorders are known as rheumatologists. Rheumatologists treat patients with clinical problems that may involve the joints, soft tissues, autoimmune disorders, and connective tissue disorders. Treatment for rheumatology disorders varies but may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, and a range of different medications.
Research has indicated that many rheumatic diseases are also autoimmune disorders that are the result of the immune system attacking healthy tissue within the body. This in turn causes inflammation that leads to swelling in muscles and joints, making them progressively less mobile and functional. Other research has indicated that rheumatic diseases may also be the result of both genetic and environmental causes.
There are many different types of rheumatic diseases, some of which may be chronic or life-threatening. Rheumatic disease may cause swelling, stiffness, or pain in the skin, muscles, tendons and bones. Certain types of rheumatic diseases may also affect connective tissue and internal organs. Common types of rheumatic diseases may include:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
- Polymyalgia Rheumatica
Many rheumatic diseases respond well to lifestyle changes that include rest, exercise and eating a healthy diet. Medications may be used to improve symptoms such as inflammation and pain. Additional treatments options may include assistive devices, physical therapy and heat and cold therapy. In the most serious cases, surgery may be performed to repair or replace a damaged joint.