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What is a rheumatologist?

Mihaela B. Taylor, MD
Rheumatology
A rheumatologist is a medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating diseases of the muscles, bones and joints. Rheumatologists deal mainly with problems involving joints and soft tissues, vasculitis (inflammation of blood vessels) and autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. They navigate through aches and pains by taking a patient's history and performing physical examinations, blood tests and imaging tests of the musculoskeletal system, such as x-rays, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
A rheumatologist is medical doctor who is an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the joints, tendons, muscles and bones. Rheumatologists typically have completed many years of medical training that may include:
  • at least four years of medical school
  • three years of training in internal medicine or pediatrics
  • an additional two to three years of training in rheumatology
Once they have completed their rheumatology fellowship training, rheumatologists must pass a rigorous national exam. For adult rheumatologists, the subspecialty exam is conducted by the American Board of Internal Medicine. For pediatric rheumatologists, the American Board of Pediatrics conducts the exam.

Rheumatologists are trained to diagnose and treat more than 100 diseases, including:
  • arthritis
  • osteoarthritis
  • autoimmune diseases such as lupus and scleroderma
  • fibromyalgia
  • tendinitis
  • gout
  • bursitis

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.