Rheumatology involves over 100 different diseases that are both chronic and unpredictable.
To best treat patients, a team of professionals is involved. They work to assess the patient's symptoms and their physical, psychological and social effects. Along with the patient, these professionals will craft a unique treatment plan for the management of rheumatic disease.
Members of the team include: a rheumatologist, internists, orthopedic surgeons, physiatrists, nurses, advanced practice nurses, physician assistants, occupational therapists, physical therapists, health educators, psychologists, case managers and vocational rehabilitation counselors. Along with the patient, these professionals will craft a unique treatment plan for the management of rheumatic disease.
A physician who has additional training and experience in the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis and other diseases of the joints, muscles and bones.
The physician who specializes in orthopedic surgery is called an orthopedic surgeon, or sometimes, simply, an orthopedist. Orthopedists are educated in the workings of the musculoskeletal system, which includes (but is not limited to) diagnosing a condition or disorder, identifying and treating an injury, providing rehabilitation to an affected area or function, and establishing prevention protocol to inhibit further damage to a diseased area or component of the musculoskeletal system.
The orthopedist may have completed up to 14 years of formal education. After becoming licensed to practice medicine, the orthopedic surgeon may become board-certified by passing both oral and written examinations given by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery.
Many orthopedic surgeons choose to practice general orthopedics, while others specialize in certain areas of the body (i.e., foot, hand, shoulder, spine, hip, or knee), or in a specialized area of orthopedic care (i.e., sports medicine, trauma medicine). Some orthopedists may specialize in several areas and may collaborate with other specialists in caring for patients.
A nurse who specializes in rheumatology care and assists the patient in regard to medical care, prevention of complications, and patient and family education.
A therapist who helps restore function for patients with problems related to movement, muscle strength, exercise, and joint function.
A therapist who helps restore upper extremity function for patients with problems related to activities of daily living (ADLs) including work, school, family, and community and leisure activities.
Psychiatrist or psychologist
A physician or counselor who conducts cognitive (thinking and learning) assessments of the patient and helps the patient and family adjust to the disability.
A counselor who assists people with disabilities to plan careers and find and keep satisfying jobs.
A rehabilitation case manager helps plan, organize, coordinate, and monitor services and resources for the patient.