Rheumatology is a subspecialty in internal medicine and pediatrics that deals with the joints, soft tissues, autoimmune diseases, vasculitis and heritable connective tissue disorders. This field is multidisciplinary in nature, which means it relies on close relationships with other medical specialties.
Changes in Rheumatology
Rheumatology has changed significantly over the last twenty or more years. It changed from a largely inpatient based specialty with poorly effective treatment modalities to an outpatient based specialty with targeted and science-based therapies.
The adequate understanding of the pathophysiological processes underlying rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases prompted the development of new drugs with better results for patients.
Today, doctors have access not only to novel biologic drugs, but also to specific registries established to evaluate real-life usage of these medicines and their optimal role in treatment protocols.
In addition, rheumatology offers diverse prospects for both clinical and scientific research, as better assessment of disease, improved science, the development of new biomarkers and optimization of drug usage will help address the quality of life of patients.
A rheumatologist specializes in the diagnosis, treatment and therapy of the rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases. These diseases can affect the joints, muscles, soft tissue and so on, causing pain, swelling, stiffness and deformity.
Unlike an orthopedist, rheumatologists do not perform surgery to treat joint diseases. Furthermore, the goal of many rheumatologists is to find the underlying cause of rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases and conduct research to find better treatment options.
A rheumatologist must first complete 4 years of medical or osteopathic education. This is followed by 3 years of residency training in internal medicine or pediatrics or in both. An additional 2- to 3-year rheumatology fellowship is required to learn about the causes, risk factors and treatment of chronic rheumatic and musculoskeletal and autoimmune conditions. Board certification is contingent upon passing the board examinations, which are retaken every 10 years.
Caribbean Arthritis Foundation
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