If your doctor refers you to a rheumatologist to evaluate your symptoms or test results, you may wonder what to expect. Rheumatic conditions are complex and may require several steps to ensure an accurate diagnosis and treatment.
Taking a History
Every rheumatologist Memphis starts an exam by asking a series of questions about your symptoms. Many rheumatic diseases are genetic, and discussing your relatives’ health may reveal clues about your condition.
Reviewing Test Results
Whether this is your first appointment or a follow-up, a rheumatologist will want to review all your recent general medical test findings. Blood tests and radiological images can reveal the early stages of a disease that may warrant further investigation.
Examining the Body
Rheumatic diseases affect the musculoskeletal system by causing pain, tenderness, inflammation, redness and other discomforts. They may also cause internal organ complications and problems with the skin and eyes. During your first appointment, a rheumatologist may test for a range of motion and look for rashes, eye redness, and irregular heartbeat and respiration.
The various rheumatic conditions may present common symptoms, and a rheumatologist will order additional testing to determine a patient’s specific ailment. Blood tests that check for particular antibodies or inflammation markers can lead to a diagnosis and treatment.
Treatment may begin when a patient receives a diagnosis. A rheumatologist usually prescribes drugs that reduce inflammation and pain and slow the specific disease’s progression. Fast-acting steroids may be necessary for short-term relief of symptoms while the body adjusts to disease-specific medications.
Most rheumatic conditions are permanent and require modifications to a patient’s daily activities and habits. A rheumatologist will counsel patients about anti-inflammatory diets, exercise, sleep and symptom triggers. Through a combination of lifestyle changes and medication, most patients achieve significant symptom relief.
Finding a rheumatologist you like and trust is essential for diagnosing and managing your condition and leading a full and productive life.