Rheumatology is a multi-organ speciality dealing with conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, spondyloarthritis ( ankylosing spondylitis, reactive arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and arthritis related to inflammatory bowel diseases), connective tissue diseases (systemic lupus erythematosus, scleroderma/systemic sclerosis, sjogrens syndrome, dermatomyositis/polymyositis, mixed connective tissue diseases and undifferentiated connective tissue diseases), vasculitis (Takayasu’s arteritis, temporal arteritis/polymyalgia, polyarteritis nodosa, Churg Strauss syndrome, microscopic polyangiitis with or without granulomatosis, Kawasaki’s disease), sarcoidosis, osteoporosis, metabolic bone diseases (vitamin D defeciencies etc.), fibromyalgia and other soft tissue problems such as tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, rotator cuff tendonitis, plantar fasciitis etc. There are several other rare rheumatological conditions and syndromes known only to the rheumatologists, so if in doubt please consult one.
Patients with following symptoms should see a rheumatologist for proper evaluation, accurate diagnosis and management: joint pain (involving the hands, arms, legs, jaw, neck or back), Joint swellings or deformities, tiredness, cold hands (raynauds phenomenon), tingling sensation in hands or feet, unexplained headaches, unexplained fevers, recurrent mouth or genital ulcers, dry eyes, dry mouth, sensitivity to sunlight, unexplained skin rashes, excessive loss of hair, recurrent abortions in young women, recurrent venous or arterial blood clots and finally abnormal blood test results such as high ESR, CRP, positive rheumatoid factor or ANA. Rarely unexplained low haemoglobin could also be a sign of inflammatory rheumatological conditions.