A rheumatologist deals with diagnostics and treatment of degenerative diseases (osteoarthritis), inflammatory arthropathies (rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis (Bekhterev's disease), psoriatic arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis), systemic connective tissue diseases (systemic lupus erythematosus, systemic sclerosis, polymyositis etc.), vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessel wall) and soft tissue rheumatism – a local disease of the joints and their surrounding structures: tendons, ligaments, capsules, muscles and bones (stress fractures).
Rheumatologic patients should be under dynamic monitoring by a rheumatologist. The physician should be visited four times a year, irrespective of the patient's feeling. It's important to assess the efficiency of the treatment and the side effects of the drugs.
Red flags for visiting a rheumatologist:
- Painful and swollen joints (more than one) for more than one week;
- Stiffness of the back and small joints of the hand after waking up, for more than 30 minutes;
- Back pain (lumbar/sacral area) and/or pain in the hip area that makes you wake up at night;
- Pain in the finger and toe joints that makes you wake up at night;
- One or more swollen, sausage-like fingers or toes;
- Fatigue without a reason, even after rest.