Rheumatology is a sub-specialty in internal medicine and pediatrics, devoted to the diagnosis and therapy of conditions and diseases affecting the joints, muscles, and bones. Clinicians who specialize in rheumatology are called rheumatologists. Rheumatologists deal mainly with clinical problems involving joints, soft tissues, certain autoimmune diseases, and the allied conditions of connective tissues. Essentially, they medically treat diseases, disorders, etc., that affect the musculoskeletal system. This includes many autoimmune diseases, as these conditions often cause rheumatic issues.
The term rheumatology originates from the Greek word rheuma, meaning “that which flows as a river or stream,” and the suffix -ology, meaning “the study of.”
Rheumatology is a rapidly evolving medical specialty, with advancements owing largely to new scientific discoveries about the immunology of these disorders. Because the characteristics of some rheumatological disorders are often best explained by immunology, the pathogenesis of many major rheumatological disorders are now described in terms of the autoimmune system, viz., as an autoimmune disease. Correspondingly, most new treatment modalities are also based on clinical research in immunology and the resulting improved understanding of the genetic bases of rheumatological disorders. Future treatment may include gene therapy, as well. Evidence-based medical treatment of rheumatological disorders has helped patients with rheumatism lead a near normal life.
Rheumatology is now emerging as an important clinical specialty recognized all over the world. This speciality is rapidly improving and well established along with properly organized post graduate training programs. The term describing clinicians dealing with rheumatism as “rheumatologists” is now a well established term commonly used by the medical community, even though it is not adequately described in dictionaries established for languages. Rheumatologists all over the world are now capable of treating most of the chronic rheumatological disorders with a much better outcome for the patients. This is due to the discovery of new disease modifying agents called biologics which is now a well established form of treatment for the patients suffering with chronic and disabling joint disorders.
A rheumatologist is a physician specialized in the field of medical sub-specialty called rheumatology, and holds either a a board certification after specialized training after Doctor of Medicine Degree (M.D.) through fellowship programs in the United States or specialist registrars positions in the United Kingdoms or DM in India or equivalent programs elsewhere in the world. The number of years allocated for specialized training in rheumatology for postgraduate trainees in different countries could vary according to the requirements of different countries. Rheumatologists are internists or pediatricians 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. Clinicians who specialize on this specialty are called Rheumatologists.