MediFind
The Definitive Guide to Finding the Best Rheumatologist Near Me
MediFind
best rheumatologist near me

Rheumatologists are experts in rheumatic diseases, a group of disorders that affect the joints, ligaments, tendons, bones, and muscles.

If you are diagnosed with a rheumatic disease, it is important to get the best treatment to make sure you can stay healthy. MediFind can help you find a top rheumatologist near you who is an expert in your specific health condition.

What is a rheumatologist?

Rheumatologists are experts in rheumatic diseases, a group of disorders that affect the joints, ligaments, tendons, bones, and muscles. Rheumatic diseases are also sometimes called musculoskeletal diseases. Common rheumatic diseases include osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

What is a pediatric rheumatologist?

A pediatric rheumatologist is an expert in rheumatic diseases in children. Rheumatic diseases are a group of disorders that affect the joints, ligaments, tendons, bones, and muscles. Pediatric rheumatologists often see children who are affected by arthritis, autoimmune disorders (such as juvenile idiopathic arthritis, Kawasaki disease, or scleroderma), and unexplained symptoms (such as inflammation, musculoskeletal pain, weakness, joint swelling, or rash).

What does a rheumatologist do?

Rheumatologists specialize in diagnosing and treating rheumatic diseases, which are a group of disorders characterized by swelling, pain, or stiffness in the joints, ligaments, tendons, bones, and muscles. Many of these disorders are autoimmune conditions, meaning that the immune system is attacking itself and causing these symptoms. The reasons for this are not fully understood, but rheumatologists are trained to help figure out if these symptoms are caused by an autoimmune disorder as opposed to an injury or other issue. 

Rheumatologists generally treat diseases with medications. If surgery or physical therapy is needed, they may refer you to other specialists.

When should I see a rheumatologist?

Almost everyone will experience a stiff joint or muscle ache from time to time. But if you are experiencing pain, stiffness, swelling, or immobility in your joints, muscles, bones, ligaments, or tendons that won’t go away, or gets worse over a short period of time, you should talk to your primary care physician. They may refer you to a rheumatologist for further evaluation to see if something else may be going on. 

If you receive a referral to a rheumatologist, it’s important to see them as soon as possible. In particular, joint damage can occur over time, and is usually not reversible. To prevent this, the sooner you’re able to diagnose and manage the cause of your symptoms, the better.

What can a rheumatologist diagnose?

Rheumatologists diagnose and treat rheumatic diseases, which are disorders that affect the joints, ligaments, tendons, bones, and muscles. 

Some of the most common conditions treated by rheumatologists include:

Many rheumatic diseases are systemic autoimmune disorders, which is when your immune system attacks your own tissues. No one is quite sure why this happens, but research suggests that there may be a genetic link, meaning that many of these disorders tend to run in families. Autoimmune conditions are also more common in women than men.

How do I choose a rheumatologist?

Rheumatologists treat over 100 different health conditions. While some conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, are quite common and affect millions of people, others are very rare and difficult to diagnose and treat. With so many conditions possibilities, it is very difficult for one person to be an expert in every unique condition. It is important to find a rheumatologist who has a lot of experience in your particular condition.

Should I see a rheumatologist or orthopedist?

You may wonder “why should I see a rheumatologist” as opposed to an orthopedist? Both rheumatologists and orthopedists treat similar diseases, often those causing pain in the joints. Which type of doctor is best for you depends on the cause of your symptoms. If symptoms are caused by an injury, you may be treated by an orthopedist. If not, you’ll often be referred to a rheumatologist. Orthopedists perform surgeries, since the causes of the symptoms they manage is often an injury or damage. Rheumatologists do not perform surgeries, since the causes of the symptoms they manage is usually a systemic disease that cannot be repaired with surgery.

Should I see a rheumatologist or neurologist?

Rheumatologists and neurologists sometimes work together when it comes to rheumatic diseases, particularly for conditions like lupus (SLE), fibromyalgia, and Lyme disease. Neurologists specialize disorders that affect the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. Which type of doctor is best for you depends on the cause of your symptoms. If necessary, a rheumatologist may refer you to a neurologist for additional tests and potentially treatment.

What does a rheumatologist do at the first visit?

As with nearly all doctor’s visits, a rheumatologist will ask about your medical history and symptoms. This is usually followed by a physical examination.

You should tell your doctor about any pain, stiffness, swelling, or immobility in your joints, ligaments, tendons, bones, or muscles. You should also be prepared to discuss your family history, since many autoimmune disorders that cause these symptoms tend to run in families. The rheumatologist may also ask you about recent travels or your living situation, since some diseases are associated with environmental factors (such as Lyme disease, which is transmitted by ticks). 

Your rheumatologist may also need more information before creating a treatment plan. They may recommend any or all of the following, and ask you to come back for a follow-up appointment:

  • Blood tests
  • Imaging tests, such as an X-ray or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) 
  • Testing some fluid from a joint affected by your symptoms

How do I find a rheumatologist who takes my insurance?

With the rapid increase in medical costs, it’s important to know whether your doctor accepts your medical insurance, including private insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid. You can choose to be treated by a doctor that doesn’t accept your insurance, but you should understand how much you would have to pay out of your own pocket first. We always recommend calling the doctor’s office directly to confirm your specific details.

When should I travel to see a rheumatology expert?

If you have a rare health condition, then you are less likely to have an expert nearby even if you live in a large metropolitan area. The decision to travel to see an expert is not easy and it can be an additional burden on an already difficult situation. However, if you don’t have an expert in your particular condition nearby, then you should consider traveling to see an expert to make sure you are getting the best treatment.

When should I get a second opinion?

You may be surprised to learn that even the top rheumatologists can have different views on the best treatment path. When possible, you should always try to get a second opinion before making major treatment decisions. Ideally, you want to get a second opinion from an expert who can give you a different point-of-view, so you can make the choice that best reflects your needs.