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What is a Rheumatologist?

A rheumatologist is an internist who received further training in the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis and other musculoskeletal diseases. Also called “rheumatic” diseases, these diseases affect the joints, muscles and bones. Many rheumatologists also conduct research to find the cause of and better treatment for these disabling diseases.

What kind of training do Rheumatologists have?

Rheumatologists must first complete four years of medical school and three years of residency training in internal medicine. After taking a national exam to become board certified, rheumatologists devote two to three years in specialized training in an accredited rheumatology fellowship program.

Most rheumatologists who plan to treat patients choose to become board certified in rheumatology after their fellowship training. If the doctor has trained in internal medicine, the subspecialty exam and certification are by the American Board of Internal Medicine.

Rheumatologists who are certified by these boards after 1990 must complete an extensive recertification process every 10 years. This process shows they have kept their medical skills and knowledge up to date.

What do Rheumatologists treat?

Rheumatologists treat arthritis, certain autoimmune diseases (when the body comes under attack by its own immune system), musculoskeletal pain and osteoporosis. There are more than 100 types of these rheumatic conditions. A few of them are rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout, lupus, ankylosing spondylitis, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia and tendinitis. Some of the rheumatic diseases are very serious and can be hard to diagnose and treat.