What is a rheumatology clinic?

A rheumatology clinic is a medical center dedicated to the treatment of rheumatic diseases, which are diseases that affect the bones, joints, and muscles. The clinic is staffed by rheumatologists, who are internal medicine doctors who specialize in treating these types of diseases. Most rheumatology clinics are subsections of a general hospital.

There are many different diseases that are treated in a rheumatology clinic, but the most common are any of the many forms of arthritis. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are two of the common forms of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the degeneration of the bone, usually caused by aging or overuse, and causes swelling, pain and stiffness in the joints in a localized area. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, a disease in which the body essentially attacks itself, causing symptoms similar to osteoarthritis. Unlike osteoarthritis arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis can affect the entire body, including organs.

Many types of patients will be treated at a rheumatology clinic, both old and young. There are also many other rheumatic diseases that are treated in the clinic besides rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, but the treatments are quite similar. Most problems are treated with various forms of prescription medication. Medications vary and depend on the severity of the disease. The most commonly prescribed medications are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs); steroids, in severe cases; and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs).

Rheumatologists are the main caregivers in a rheumatology clinic. They are doctors who have undergone specialized training, usually about eight years, including their residency. The rheumatologist's responsibilities include diagnosing the patient, interpreting laboratory results, and prescribing medications and treatment. In addition to rheumatologists, there will also be other caregivers, such as registered nurses who often administer medications and physical therapists who help patients with joint mobility exercises. In larger clinics, there may be a department dedicated to research or an area of ​​the clinic dedicated to a specific disease, or perhaps both.

Although part of a larger hospital, most rheumatology clinics are separate entities and operate accordingly. They often have their own labs, as many rheumatology patients constantly need things like blood tests. In addition to receiving treatment at a clinic, patients may participate in clinical trials that are investigating new treatment methods. For patients who don't respond to medication, have little money, or simply want to help with research, this may be a viable option.

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