Your Guide to Diseases Managed by Rheumatologists

A rheumatologist is a medical specialist with extensive experience in diagnosing and treating patients with inflammatory or autoimmune diseases that affect the musculoskeletal system. If you are seeking a diagnosis for an autoimmune or inflammatory disorder, need to monitor the progression of your condition, or require a personalized treatment plan, a rheumatologist is the expert to see.

Most rheumatologists have a specific area of expertise, such as joints, tissues, nerves, or blood vessels. Rheumatologists play a critical role in diagnosing, treating, and managing a variety of conditions, including:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Lupus
  • Scleroderma
  • Vasculitis
  • Gout
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Sjögren’s syndrome
  • Polymyalgia rheumatica
  • Giant cell arteritis
  • Reactive arthritis

By collaborating closely with rheumatologists, patients can achieve better outcomes and improve their quality of life.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory condition affecting the joints and surrounding tissues. It is due to an autoimmune attack of the lining of the joints called synovium. Such auto-immune attacks leads to inflammation, which eventually leads to joint damage if not adequately treated. Rheumatoid arthritis is not just a joint disease, it can also affect multiple other organs, such as skin, eyes, lungs, and even heart. Left on treated, rheumatoid arthritis could also increase your risk of heart attack and strokes. But the good news is, currently there are multiple effective treatments to help manage rheumatoid arthritis. These medications are safe and highly effective to control inflammation and prevent long-term joint damage.

Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis is a form of chronic inflammatory joint and skin problem due to an autoimmune attack of the skin command joints, attendance, and other surrounding tissues in a joint. Almost one-third of patients who have skin psoriasis could develop psoriatic arthritis during their lifetime. Psoriatic arthritis significantly increases morbidity, leading to chronic joint pain and even increasing your risk of heart disease and stroke. Psoriatic arthritis causes inflammation in multiple joints, and tendon areas causing recurrent tendon inflammation, which is called enthesitis. If you have a skin rash consistent with psoriasis and have developed joint pain, please visit a rheumatologist who could help you guide in the diagnosis and treatment. Prompt treatment decreases your long-term complications related to psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Currently, there are multiple FDA-approved medications to treat psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.


Gout is another form of chronic recurring arthritis that could cause significant joint pain and joint swelling. Gout typically causes sudden attacks involving a few joints, larger joints in your body. The attack typically lasts for up to 2 weeks, with an improvement of your symptoms. Effective treatment could shorten those intervals of joint pain and decrease your future risk of such attacks. Gout is due to the increased amount of uric acid in our body. Uric acid is a normal by-product of cellular metabolism. You could be at risk of gout either due to increased production of uric acid or more commonly due to decrease excretion of uric acid by your kidneys. There are certain diets that could increase your risk of gout such as alcohol, red meat, and shellfish. Certain health conditions such as kidney problems could increase your risk of gout attacks.

There are multiple effective treatments for gout. If you are on those medications, you could be at a significantly lower risk of having gout attacks. Please consult our rheumatologist to discuss those treatment options.


Lupus is an autoimmune disorder that causes the body’s immune system to attack its own tissues and organs. Over time, the inflammation caused by lupus can severely damage the joints, blood cells, heart, lungs, skin, kidneys, joints, and brain. Early symptoms of lupus are hard to detect as they mimic other conditions and might develop suddenly or slowly or be severe or mild. Symptoms can range from fatigue and fever to skin lesions, rashes, headaches, and memory loss. While the exact cause of lupus is unknown, some people have a genetic or inherited predisposition to the disease. It can be triggered after exposure to sunlight, infection, or medications. A rheumatologist can diagnose lupus through physical exams, health history, family health history, blood and urine tests, kidney and liver assessments, antibody tests, and imaging tests. Treatment includes medications as well as significant changes to lifestyle, diet, exercise, and health habits.


Spondyloarthritis consists of multiple chronic inflammatory joint conditions that could lead to multiple joint-related symptoms. One of the most common examples is ankylosing spondylitis also referred to as axial spondyloarthritis, which typically causes chronic low back pain in younger age group, typically less than 45 years. These group conditions could also affect other larger joints and tendon areas, and eyes. this condition is due to autoimmune attack of the joint, and tendon areas. There are multiple effective treatments, which could decrease your symptoms and decrease the long-term progression of the disease. If you are having chronic unexplained low back pain, please consult A rheumatologist to make an accurate diagnosis and find the treatment plan.


Osteoarthritis is one of the most common forms of arthritis, and symptoms typically develop slowly and progressively worsen. Early signs and symptoms include joint pain and stiffness, tenderness, loss of range of motion, bone spurs, swelling, and a grating sensation around the joint. The disease is caused by a breakdown of the cartilage that supports and cushions the bones in the joints. As the cartilage deteriorates, symptoms worsen. Risk factors for osteoarthritis include old age, obesity, joint injuries or damage, bone deformities, repeated stress on the joint, and metabolic diseases like diabetes. A rheumatologist can diagnose osteoarthritis through imaging and lab tests, and treatment includes medication, physical therapy, occupational therapy, surgical intervention, lifestyle changes, alternative medicine treatments, and injections.


Vasculitis is a condition that causes inflammation of the blood vessels. As the walls of the blood vessels thicken, blood flow becomes restricted, and organ and tissue damage can occur. There are many distinct types of vasculitis, and each one has different symptoms, complications, and treatment options. The types of vasculitis include giant cell arteritis, granulomatosis with polyangiitis, Henoch-Schoenlein purpura, Kawasaki disease, Takayasu’s arteritis, Bechet’s disease, Buerger disease, and cryoglobulinemic vasculitis. Symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, weight loss, and aches and pains. Other symptoms occur depending on the type of vasculitis and the area of the body that is affected. The underlying cause of vasculitis is not known, it has multifactorial causes which could include genetic risks and environmental triggers. A rheumatologist can diagnose vasculitis through blood and imaging tests, biopsy, and health history. If you or your primary care doctor suspect vasculitis, you need to see a rheumatologist immediately, first to diagnose the condition and find the appropriate treatment. Treatment includes medication to control the symptoms and prevent progression, as well as surgery to repair complications from the condition.

Bechet’s Disease

Bechet’s Disease, or Bechet’s Syndrome, is a rare disorder that causes the blood vessels throughout the body to become inflamed. Early symptoms can include eye inflammation, skin rashes, lesions, and genital or mouth sores. A rheumatologist can design a medication management plan for the treatment and management of Bechet’s and its symptoms, but there is no cure for the disease. Early intervention and treatment reduce the risk of serious complications and side effects, such as blindness. There is no specific test for Bechet’s, but a rheumatologist can make a diagnosis based on symptoms, medical history, family history, and a physical examination.


Scleroderma is a collection of rare diseases that cause the skin to harden and tighten. Complications from the disease can result in problems with the lungs, joints, kidneys, blood vessels, organs, and digestive system. Because scleroderma can affect every area of the body, the symptoms are wide-ranging, and the condition can be hard to diagnose. Someone with scleroderma might display skin symptoms, Raynaud’s, digestive problems, heart problems, and lung problems. Scleroderma occurs when there is too much collagen in the body; however, it is not yet known why the body overproduces collagen. A rheumatologist can diagnose scleroderma through a physical exam, health history, review of symptoms and medical problems over the years, family health history, and blood or imaging tests. Medications could slow down the progression of scleroderma symptoms, in particular, if it is affecting the lungs and improves your quality of life.

If you need a rheumatologist in Wake County, NC, or surrounding areas, come see us at Empowered Arthritis and Rheumatology Center, PLLC. Our mission is to provide compassionate, timely, and convenient care for patients with arthritis, joint pain, and auto-immune diseases. Call us today or contact us online to schedule an initial rheumatology evaluation.

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