Rheumatology

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Rheumatology
SystemMusculoskeletal, Immune
Significant diseasesRheumatoid arthritis, Systemic lupus erythematosus, Osteoarthritis, Psoriatic arthritis, Ankylosing spondylitis, Gout, Osteoporosis
Significant testsJoint aspirate, Musculoskeletal exam, X-ray
SpecialistRheumatologist

Rheumatology (Greek ῥεῦμα, rheûma, flowing current) is a branch of medicine devoted to the diagnosis and therapy of rheumatic diseases. Physicians who have undergone formal training in rheumatology are called rheumatologists. Rheumatologists deal mainly with immune-mediated disorders of the musculoskeletal system, soft tissues, autoimmune diseases, vasculitides, and heritable connective tissue disorders.

Many of these diseases are now known to be disorders of the immune system. Rheumatology is considered to be the study and practice of medical immunology.

Beginning in the 2000s, the incorporation of drugs called the biologics (which include inhibitors of TNF-alpha, certain interleukins, and the JAK-STAT signaling pathway) into standards of care is one of the paramount developments in modern rheumatology.[1]

Rheumatologist[edit]

Rheumatologist
Occupation
NamesDoctor, Medical Specialist
Occupation type
Specialty
Activity sectors
Medicine
Description
Education required
Fields of
employment
Hospitals, Clinics

A rheumatologist is a physician who specializes in the field of medical sub-specialty called rheumatology. A rheumatologist holds a board certification after specialized training after attaining a medical degree through fellowship programs in the United States, or specialist registrar positions in the United Kingdom, or DM in India or equivalent programs elsewhere in the world. In the United States, training in this field requires four years undergraduate school, four years of medical school, and then three years of residency, followed by two or three years additional Fellowship training. The requirements may vary in other countries. Rheumatologists are internists 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.[2]

Rheumatologists treat arthritis, autoimmune diseases, pain disorders affecting joints, 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.

Diseases[edit]

Diseases diagnosed or managed by rheumatologists include:

Degenerative arthropathies[edit]

Inflammatory arthropathies[edit]

Systemic conditions and connective tissue diseases[edit]

Soft tissue rheumatism[edit]

Local diseases and lesions affecting the joints and structures around the joints including tendons, ligaments capsules, bursae, stress fractures, muscles, nerve entrapment, vascular lesions, and ganglia. For example:

Diagnosis[edit]

Physical examination[edit]

Following are examples of methods of diagnosis able to be performed in a normal physical examination.

  • Schober's test tests the flexion of the lower back.
  • Multiple joint inspection
  • Musculoskeletal Examination
    • Screening Musculoskeletal Exam (SMSE) - a rapid assessment of structure and function
    • General Musculoskeletal Exam (GMSE) - a comprehensive assessment of joint inflammation
    • Regional Musculoskeletal Exam (RMSE) - focused assessments of structure, function and inflammation combined with special testing

Specialized[edit]

Treatment[edit]

Most rheumatic diseases are treated with analgesics, NSAIDs (Non-Steroid Anti-Inflammatory Drugs), steroids (in serious cases), DMARDs (Disease-Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs), monoclonal antibodies, such as infliximab and adalimumab, and the soluble TNF receptor etanercept and Methotrexate for moderate to severe Rheumatoid arthritis.[3] Biologic agent Rituximab (Anti-B-Cell Therapy) is now licensed for use in refractory Rheumatoid Arthritis.[4] Physiotherapy is vital in the treatment of many rheumatological disorders. Occupational therapy can help patients finding alternative ways for common movements which would otherwise be restricted by their disease. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis often need a long term, coordinated and a multidisciplinary team approach towards management of individual patients. Treatment is often tailored according to the individual needs of each patient which is also dependent on the response and the tolerability of medications.

Rheumasurgery[edit]

Rheumasurgery - sometimes called rheumatoid surgery - is a subfield of orthopedics occupied with the surgical treatment of patients with rheumatic diseases.[5] The purpose of the interventions is to limit disease activity, soothe pain and improve function.[6]

Rheumasurgical interventions can be divided in two groups. The one is early synovectomies, that is the removal of the inflamed synovia in order to prevent spreading and stop destruction. The other group is the so-called corrective intervention, i.e. an intervention done after destruction has taken place.[7] Among the corrective interventions are joint replacements, removal of loose bone or cartilage fragments, and a variety of interventions aimed at repositioning and/or stabilizing joints,[8] such as arthrodesis.

Research directions[edit]

Recently, a large body of scientific research deals with the background of autoimmune disease, the cause of many rheumatic disorders. Also, the field of osteoimmunology has emerged to further examine the interactions between the immune system, joints and bones. Epidemiological studies and medication trials are also being conducted. Scientific research on biologics and clinical trials on monoclonal antibody therapies have added a new dimension to the medical treatment of arthritic disorders.[citation needed]

History[edit]

Rheumasurgery emerged in the cooperation of rheumatologists and orthopedic surgeons in Heinola, Finland, during the 1950s.[9]

In 1970 a Norwegian investigation estimated that at least 50% of patients with rheumatic symptoms needed rheumasurgery as an integrated part of their treatment.[10]

The European Rheumatoid Arthritis Surgical Society (ERASS) was founded in 1979.[11]

Around the turn of the century, focus for treatment of patients with rheumatic disease shifted, and pharmacological treatment became dominant, while surgical interventions became rarer.[12][13]

Since the early 2000s, electrical nerve stimulation started being used for relief from Arthritis pain. Electrical impulses are sent though the body and is not recommended for people who have pacemakers or another implanted device, suffer from epilepsy or heart condition or are pregnant. There are several forms of nerve stimulation, including transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), pulsed electrical stimulation (PES), neuromuscular electrostimulation (NMES), interferential current (IFC) and Noninvasive Interactive Neurostimulation (NIN)[14]. Neurostimulation therapy or spinal cord stimulation specifically targets back pain.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rheumatology (Oxford). 2012 Dec;51 Suppl 6:vi28-36. doi:10.1093/rheumatology/kes278.
  2. ^ "What is a Rheumatologist?". www.rheumatology.org.
  3. ^ "Methotrexate for Rheumatoid Arthritis". Arthritis.about.com. Retrieved 2013-06-24.
  4. ^ Edwards J; Szczepanski L; Szechinski J; Filipowicz-Sosnowska A; et al. (2004). "Efficacy of B-cell-targeted therapy with rituximab in patients with Rheumatoid arthritis". N Engl J Med. 350 (25): 2572–2581. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa032534. PMID 15201414.
  5. ^ "Norsk forening for revmakirurgi - Med hovedbase på Diakonhjemmet" LB Johannessen Tidsskr Nor Lægeforen 2004; 124:3110 Nr. 23 – 2. December 2004
  6. ^ Rheumakirurgi. Arne Skredderstuen November 2000
  7. ^ Den sykehusmessige revmatikeromsorgen i Norge (Kåss and Stene 1970), page 24.
  8. ^ "Surgery for Rheumatic Diseases" Cedars Sinai (http://www.cedars-sinai.edu)
  9. ^ Revmatisme: Gamle plager - ny viten (Munthe and Larsen 1987), page 49.
  10. ^ Den sykehusmessige revmatikeromsorgen i Norge (Kåss and Stene 1970), pages 24-25.
  11. ^ Rydholm, U "Reumakirurgiens uppgång, stabilisering og nedgång ur ett sydsvenskt perspektiv" 2013
  12. ^ Trender i revmakirurgisk behandling av pasienter med leddgikt og andre kronisk inflammatoriske leddsykdommer, Norsk Rheumabulletin 4/2012, pages 16-17.
  13. ^ Nikiphorou E, Carpenter L, Morris S, et al. "Hand and foot surgery rates in rheumatoid arthritis have declined from 1986 to 2011, but large-joint replacement rates remain unchanged: results from two UK inception cohorts." Arthritis Rheumatol. 2014;66(5):1081-9. doi:10.1002/art.38344. PMID 24782174
  14. ^ "Electrical Nerve Stimulation for Arthritis Pain". Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  15. ^ D’Onofrio, Kaitlyn. "Neurostimulation Therapy May Help Treat Chronic Back Pain". DocWire. Retrieved 25 October 2018.

External links[edit]