A rheumatologist is a clinician specialized in the field of medical sub-specialty called rheumatology, and holds either a Doctor of Medicine Degree (M.D.) or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree (D.O.). Training in this field requires four years undergraduate school, four years of medical school, and then, in the United States, three years of residency, followed by two or three years additional Fellowship training.
The number of years allocated for specialized training in rheumatology for postgraduate trainees in different countries could vary according to the requirements of different countries. Rheumatologists are internists, physicians or pediatricians who are qualified by additional postgraduate training and experience in the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis and other diseases of the joints, muscles and bones. Many rheumatologists also conduct research to determine the cause and better treatments for these disabling and sometimes fatal diseases. Treatment modalities are based on scientific research, currently, practice of rheumatology is largely evidence based. Clinicians who specialize on this specialty are called Rheumatologists.
Rheumatologists treat arthritis, certain autoimmune diseases, musculoskeletal pain disorders and osteoporosis. There are more than 200 types of these diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout, lupus, back pain, osteoporosis, and tendinitis. Some of these are very serious diseases that can be difficult to diagnose and treat. They treat soft tissue problems related to musculoskeletal system sports related soft tissue disorders and the specialty is also interrelated with physiotherapy, physical medicine and rehabilitation of disabled patients. Patient education programs and occupational therapy also go hand in hand with this specialty.
There are many international organizations representing rheumatologists all over the world. The American College of Rheumatology ( ACR), the Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals (ARHP), the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR), Asia Pacific League of Associations for Rheumatology (APLAR), International League of Associations for Rheumatology (ILAR) are the main international organizations established and organizing many activities related to this specialty, these organizations strive to propagate and consolidate Rheumatology endeavors internationally , furthermore, there are associations and colleges of Rheumatology representing Rheumatologists from each and every nation scattered throughout the world which represent the above mentioned organizations from each nation. Rheumatologists are physicians specialized in rheumatic diseases.
For example, there are approximately 480 consultant rheumatologists in the UK. Rheumatologists are increasing in numbers in all countries, as there is an increasing demand for specialists on this field with an increasing population of aging patients who need specialized treatment.
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Last Updated: Feb 1, 2011