A rheumatologist is a clinician specialised in the field of medical sub-specialty called rheumatology, and holds either a Doctor of Medicine degree (M.D.) or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree (D.O.).
Rheumatologists are internists, physicians or paediatricians who are qualified by additional postgraduate training and experience in the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis and other diseases of the joints, muscles and bones. Many rheumatologists also conduct research to determine the cause and better treatments for these disabling and sometimes fatal diseases. Treatment modalities are based on scientific research, currently, practice of rheumatology is largely evidence based.
Rheumatologists treat arthritis, certain autoimmune diseases, musculoskeletal pain disorders and osteoporosis. There are more than 200 types of these diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout, lupus, back pain, osteoporosis, and tendinitis. Some of these are very serious diseases that can be difficult to diagnose and treat. They treat soft tissue problems related to musculoskeletal system sports related soft tissue disorders and the specialty is also interrelated with physiotherapy, physical medicine and rehabilitation of disabled patients. Patient education programs and occupational therapy also go hand in hand with this specialty.
There is an increasing demand for specialists on this field with an increasing population of ageing patients who need specialised treatment.