Rheumatologist - Back Pain Doctor
A rheumatologist is an osteopathic physician (DO) or a medical doctor who is especially trained to treat both degenerative forms of arthritis (.e.g osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease), bone diseases such as osteoporosis, and arthritic conditions related to autoimmune and other diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis). While other MDs are trained to rehabilitate injuries and/or perform surgery to correct conditions, rheumatologists are specialized to find the causes of the arthritis and possible the underlying disease causing the condition. Arthritis is inflammation of the joints, either through overwork, an immediate injury, or some degenerative process that has work down the joint tissues. Rheumatologists are trained to diagnose arthritic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, and fibromyalgia - all which can have back pain as a possible symptom.
If your doctor thinks that your back pain is unlikely to resolve on its own, or if he is unsure of the cause of the back symptoms, he may refer you to a rheumatologist. Rheumatologist's visits will be covered by most health insurance plans, though your provider may dictate the rheumatologist you see. If you are not sure which rheumatologist to see, you may contact your local Arthritis Foundation chapter by logging on to www.arthritis.org or by calling the them at 800-283-7800. Other online resources available to find local back pain doctors/rheumatologists include spineuniverse atwww.spineuniverse.com, spine-health at www.spinehealth.com, and, the American College of Rheumatology at www.rheumatology.org.
Most of these web resources will help you to find the doctors that are the most local, but they may not provide information about how long they have been in practice, or which ones have the best reputations. Talk to your primary care physician, family, friends, and coworkers to gather more information, so that you know which one to go to.
A rheumatologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis and other musculoskeletal diseases (involving bones, muscles, and joints). The Rheumatologist becomes board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine after 4 years of medical school (to become an MD or DO), followed by three years in either pediatrics or internal medicine, followed by 2-3 additional years of specialized rheumatology training.
Rheumatologists treat chronic pains diseases involving changes in the musculoskeletal system that are involve both wear and tear as well as systemic diseases. A patient may be referred to a rheumatologist if the patient is suspected of having arthritis involving autoimmune diseases such as ankylosing spondylitis, reactive arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, or Arthritis with inflammatory bowel disease. Many of these autoimmune diseases are diagnosed through blood tests as well as medical imaging to look at changes to the soft tissues around the spine and the joints. Rheumatologists also diagnose and treat other chronic musculoskeletal diseases, including tendonitis, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, and musculoskeletal pain disorders. These doctors treat many types of diseases that are difficult to identify. For example, diseases such as fibromyalgia are difficult diagnose, because there are no specific radiologic tests or blood tests that will provide doctors and patients with a definitive diagnosis.
Patients may works closely with their rheumatologists to receive a diagnosis and treatment, or the rheumatologist may be one member in a collaborative group of healthcare professionals that come up with a treatment program for a patient that involves physiotherapy, medications, and emotional support to help treat patients with chronic pain disorders. Collaborative groups such as these may involve the patient's primary care physician, rheumatologist, physical therapists, psychologists, and other specialists.