When is it The Right Time to See a Rheumatologist?

Remember a rheumatologist is a specialist that focuses on the diagnosis of bone and musculoskeletal disorders and autoimmune diseases. We often are considered detectives in trying to analyze various symptoms and blood work results to figure out a diagnosis.

⁠We will all experience joint pain and muscle aches at some point in our lives. For most of us, these symptoms may last a few days after trauma or injury, vigorous exercise or a viral illness and infection.

Sometimes, joint and muscle pain can be triggered without a specific cause. Knowing when to see a rheumatologist for treatment can be tricky!⁠ Because many rheumatic diseases often initially present one way but may change or evolve over time, you may need to see a rheumatologist more than once to reach a final diagnosis.

Early and proper treatment can really make a difference. While there are few cures for rheumatic diseases, there are many therapies that can make a big difference for patients by relieving pain, lessening inflammation, and slowing or stopping damage to joints and sometimes preventing other organ involvement.

This is why seeking help quickly, within the “window of opportunity“, is so important.⁠

Five symptoms/reasons that are clear signs it is time to see a rheumatologist are:⁠

1.⁠ If you experience more than a few days or weeks of joint pain and swelling, muscle aches, muscle weakness.

2.⁠  If you have difficulty with walking, gripping, writing or impairment of daily functions.

3.⁠ If you notice any joint, tendon, muscle, or bone deformity.

4. If your primary care doctor indicates that you have abnormal blood work such as positive antinuclear antibodies (ANA)or rheumatoid factor (RF), or elevated inflammatory markers to name a few.  There are other specific proteins or blood tests that are associated with rheumatic diseases. 

5. If you have other systemic symptoms like prolonged fatigue, fever, rash, dry eyes or mouth, oral/ nasal ulcers, hand color changes, hair loss, sun sensitivity, chest pain, shortness of breath, bleeding or neurological symptoms and there are NO OTHER identified causes after a thorough evaluation.

Does this list help you identify when you would seek a consult? Let me know and follow my Instagram account: @drmaggiecadet for more on Rheumatology.

Disclaimer:  This blog contains my personal opinion based on personal and clinical experience, tips from trainers, health coaches and lastly research.  This blog does not endorse specific treatments, procedures, products.  You should always consult with a doctor, nutritionist, or other healthcare professional to discuss your own health and lifestyle goals and regimen based on your medical history.  Thank you for reading!