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What specialists treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA)?

The following healthcare professionals treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA):

  • Primary care physicians are generally the first point of contact. If your physician suspects your symptoms indicate rheumatoid arthritis, he or she may diagnose you or refer you to a rheumatologist for diagnosis and further care.
  • Rheumatologists specialize in treating RA and related conditions. The latest recommendations for managing RA advise seeing a rheumatologist as soon as possible, generally within a month or two of first experiencing symptoms.
  • Nurses can help manage rheumatoid arthritis on an everyday basis. They may act as liaisons between you and your rheumatologist, help with treatment plans, and provide information and care.
  • Occupational therapists teach you how to protect your joints, minimize pain, and conserve energy while going about everyday tasks, from getting dressed to carrying groceries.
  • Physical therapists (or physiotherapists) work with you to improve joint function and reduce pain using exercises, relaxation techniques, heat, cold, and other nondrug treatments.
  • Physiatrists are doctors who specialize in physical rehabilitation. Their goal is to help you maintain or regain as much function as possible.
  • Psychologists and social workers can help you cope with the effects of living with a chronic condition. Cognitive-behavioral therapy may help relieve pain; social workers can assist with the practicalities of disability, home healthcare, and other issues.
  • Orthopedic surgeons specialize in treating bones, joints, muscles, and tendons and perform procedures such as joint injections and joint replacements.

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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.