What is Rheumatology?

DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT
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Rheumatology is a specialty discipline in Internal Medicine. It is devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic diseases. “Rheumatic diseases” is an umbrella term, which includes over 120 musculature and autoimmune conditions. Most of these diseases are systemic in nature, meaning they may affect many different parts of the body or the body as a whole. They commonly affect the joints, bones, muscles and other connective tissue. This may lead to pain, stiffness, swelling and over time also to deformity and disability, especially if left untreated. Many of these conditions are complex and may be difficult to diagnose.

Conditions commonly treated by Rheumatologists include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Gout
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis and other Seronegative Spondyloarthropathies (eg. Psoriatic arthritis, Reactive arthritis and Inflammatory-bowel disease associated arthritis)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Systemic Sclerosis/ Scleroderma
  • Sjögren’s Syndrome
  • Anti-phospholipid Antibody Syndrome
  • Inflammatory muscle disease (eg. Dermatomyositis and Polymyositis)
  • Mixed connective tissue disease, overlap syndromes and undifferentiated connective tissue disease
  • Vasculitis
  • Arthritis associated with infectious agents (eg. HIV-associated rheumatic conditions)
  • Arthritis associated with metabolic, endocrine and haematologic diseases
  • Hereditary and congenital rheumatic syndromes

What is an autoimmune disease?

The body’s immune system is highly specialised and is designed to protect you from disease and harmful substances through various biological processes and anatomical structures. Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system “accidentally” targets healthy tissue, resulting in inflammation and damage.

Some examples of autoimmune diseases include: rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), type 1 diabetes, Grave’s disease.
Recent significant advances in the understanding of how the immune system works (Immunology) as well as major progress in the field of Genetics has led to exciting new developments and treatment strategies in autoimmune diseases and other rheumatologic conditions.

What can I expect from a visit to a rheumatologists practice?

All patients can expect a comprehensive medical assessment, consisting of a complete medical history and thorough physical examination, to rapidly establish a correct diagnosis. Access to state of the art laboratory and imaging modalities will facilitate this process.

Every human being is absolutely unique therefore an individualized multi-disciplinary treatment strategy is highly important. It will be formulated for every patient individually, with the aim of providing the best possible treatment, restoring normal function and improving the quality of life as quickly as possible.

Therapeutic intra-articular injections and diagnostic/ therapeutic joint aspirations will be performed if indicated.

Education and support will be provided to all patients.