What is Rheumatology & arthritis ? Who is a Rheumatologist?

What is Rheumatology ?

Rheumatology is a field of medicine, which deals with diseases having joint pain, arthritis and other related symptoms. It derives its origin from word ‘rheumatism’, which means anything related to joint or body pain.

explaining what is rheumatology and arthritis

What is arthritis and Rheumatology? (Image courtesy -http://nyphotographic.com. Creative Commons 3 – CC BY-SA 3.0)

What is Arthritis ?

Arthritis means joint pain associated with inflammation (redness, warmth and swelling). All joint pains are not arthritis.

All joint pains are not arthritis.    

Most rheumatology diseases are a particular type of arthritis. However, depending on disease type, they can affect any organ of the body. Thus, they can be serious diseases too. They even affect children and young people.

Rheumatic diseases most commonly affect joints, but depending on type of disease they can affect any organ in the body.

Some common rheumatology diseases are :

  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • Gout
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Reactive arthritis
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Rheumatology diseases are autoimmune diseases

Rheumatic diseases are often autoimmune in nature. Autoimmune diseases are diseases,  where a part of one’s own immune system automatically starts  acting against itself. It is unknown why this ‘auto’ ‘immune’ activation causes problems only in a few. Note, it is not the low immunity, but over active immunity, which is the problem. Over active immunity loves to hit joints, this is why most rheumatic diseases have arthritis.

Rheumatic diseases have over active immunity causing problems to one’s own body. Joints are most commonly hit by this.

Who is a Rheumatologist ?

Rheumatologist is a physician doctor, who is specially trained to investigate & treat various types of arthritis and rheumatic diseases with medicines. They are also commonly known as ‘joint pain or arthritis’ doctors. They are different from orthopaedic doctors, who are surgeons. However, both type of doctors need to work together, at times, to treat some patients.

It is necessary to start treatment early if you suffer from rheumatic illness. As immunity is  over active in these diseases, the medicines used to treat these diseases regulate and sometimes suppress the immune system. Early effective treatment helps prevent serious joint damage and can help save life in serious rheumatic disease.

Early treatment in rheumatic diseases prevents joint damage, deformities and helps avoid joint replacement surgeries.  


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Author: Dr Nilesh Nolkha, Rheumatologist

Dr Nilesh Nolkha is a young and dynamic rheumatologist who keeps patients interests at forefront of everything he does.

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