What to consider when choosing this partner in your rheumatoid arthritis care team.
You’ve just been told that you need a rheumatologist. Don’t simply choose the first one that shows up in a Google search. Finding a good rheumatologist can make all the difference in how you handle your rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Rheumatologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of autoimmune diseases that often involve pain, such as RA. “Rheumatologists do the detective work necessary to discover the cause of swelling and pain,” says Harry D. Fischer, MD, chief of the Division of Rheumatology at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City and coauthor of What to Do When the Doctor Says It’s Rheumatoid Arthritis. “It’s important to get a proper diagnosis early, so you can get the right treatment.”
After spending four years in medical school and three years training in internal medicine, doctors who become rheumatologists spend another two to three years getting trained in rheumatology. Most become board certified, which requires passing an exam given by the American Board of Internal Medicine.
Rheumatologists work closely with patients to identify their problems and customize treatment programs. That’s why choosing a good rheumatologist is important for your health. Here’s what you need to consider when selecting a rheumatologist: