What is a rheumatologist, and what specialties of doctors treat arthritis?
A rheumatologist is a medical doctor who specializes in the nonsurgical treatment of rheumatic illnesses, especially arthritis.
Rheumatologists have special interests in unexplained rash, fever, arthritis, anemia, weakness, weight loss, fatigue, joint or muscle pain, autoimmune disease, and anorexia. They often serve as consultants, acting like medical detectives at the request of other doctors.
Rheumatologists have particular skills in the evaluation of the over 100 forms of arthritis and have special interests in inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis, seronegative arthritis, spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, antiphospholipid syndrome, Still's disease, dermatomyositis, Sjögren's syndrome, vasculitis, scleroderma, mixed connective tissue disease, sarcoidosis, Lyme disease, osteomyelitis, osteoarthritis, back pain, gout, pseudogout, relapsing polychondritis, Henoch-Schönlein purpura, serum sickness, reactive arthritis, Kawasaki disease, fibromyalgia, erythromelalgia, Raynaud's disease, growing pains, iritis, osteoporosis, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, and others.
Classical adult rheumatology training includes four years of medical school, one year of internship in internal medicine, two years of internal-medicine residency, and two years of rheumatology fellowship. There is a subspecialty board for rheumatology certification, offered by the American Board of Internal Medicine, which can provide board certification to approved rheumatologists.
Pediatric rheumatologists are physicians who specialize in providing comprehensive care to children (as well as their families) with rheumatic diseases, especially arthritis.
Pediatric rheumatologists are pediatricians who have completed an additional two to three years of specialized training in pediatric rheumatology and are usually board-certified in pediatric rheumatology.
Other doctors who treat arthritis include pediatricians, internists, general-medicine doctors, family medicine doctors, and orthopedic surgeons.