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Rheumatology


Millions of Americans are affected by arthritis or a related disease that affects the joints, muscles, and bones. Woodland Clinic’s rheumatologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the joints, tendons, muscles, ligaments, and related structures. Our philosophy is to treat each individual as a whole, not just the disease, keeping them informed and involved in their own treatment plans. Don’t let joint pain hold you back. See one of our rheumatologists to start your treatment plan today.

Symptoms

Symptoms of rheumatic diseases vary but typically include inflammation, swollen or tender joints, stiffness, fatigue, and mental stress. The level of pain caused by a rheumatic disease can be unpredictable and change over time; ranging from high when activity level is increased and symptoms are most severe, down to low when activity is decreased, and symptoms are less apparent. 

Conditions We Treat

We treat a full spectrum of rheumatic diseases affecting joint pain and range of motion. While rheumatic diseases can develop in people of any age, gender, or race, some people are more susceptible to some than others. Contributing factors to the disease include genetics, environment, gender, and age. Below is a list of the most common rheumatic diseases we treat. 

Arthritis typically affects patients over the age of 65 but can also develop in children, teens, and younger adults. Two of the most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis causes cartilage to break down, while rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of joints. Arthritis affects your range of motion and results in joint pain and stiffness that may increase over time. If you start noticing signs of arthritis, or if you find yourself experiencing severe symptoms, see a rheumatologist for faster diagnosis and treatment. 

Degenerative joint and bone disease, or osteoarthritis, is the most common form of arthritis, affecting millions of people worldwide. It gradually worsens over time and typically occurs in the knees, hips, lower back, neck, and small joint of the fingers. Staying active, maintaining a healthy weight, and talking to your doctor about medications and treatment may slow the progression of osteoarthritis and improve pain and joint functions. 

Rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of your joints, causing a painful swelling that can eventually lead to joint deformity and bone erosion. Early rheumatoid arthritis tends to affect your smaller joints first — particularly your finger, toes, hands, and feet. As the disease worsens, pain and swelling often spreads to wrists, knees, ankles and elbows. See your doctor if pain and swelling in your joints continues to persist.

Gout is a form of arthritis characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain, swelling, and tenderness in the joints. It often affects the joint at the base of the big toe. Other commonly affected joints include the ankles, knees, elbows, wrists, and fingers. An attack of gout can often wake you up in the middle of the night, leaving the joint hot, swollen, and tender. If you experience sudden, intense pain in a joint, call your doctor. Gout that goes untreated can lead to worsening pain and joint damage.

Lupus occurs when your body's immune system attacks your own tissues and organs. Inflammation caused by lupus can affect many different body systems and lead to stiffness and swelling in the joints. Other symptoms include fatigue, fever, shortness of breath, and skin lesions. While there's no cure for lupus, treatments can help control symptoms. See your doctor if you notice symptoms arise.

Lyme disease is the most common tick-born illness in the United States. Signs and symptoms of Lyme disease vary, usually appearing in stages that sometimes overlap. An expanding red area might appear between three to 30 days after a tick bite becomes infected. Left untreated, Lyme disease can lead to severe fatigue, joint pain and neurological problems. Consult your doctor as soon as symptoms appear. 

Scleroderma involves the hardening and tightening of the skin and connective tissues. It typically affects women more than men and occurs between the ages of 30 and 50. Signs and symptoms tend to vary but typically include a restricted range of motion as patches of skin begin to harden over time. While there is no cure for scleroderma, treatments can ease symptoms and improve quality of life.

Preparing for Your Appointment

To get the most out of your visit with your rheumatologist, it’s important to know what questions and concerns you have ahead of time. Come prepared to your appointment by bringing your insurance card, as well as a list of questions, medications, and any possible concerns so that all your health needs are met. Make sure to schedule a follow-up appointment if needed to keep your health in check.

Treatments

When it comes to choosing safe and effective treatments, your rheumatologist will know what medications and therapies to prescribe for your lifestyle. Treatment plans differ depending on the specific rheumatic disease. However they typically include a combination of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and physical or occupational therapy. If medications and therapy fail to slow joint damage, you and your doctor may consider surgery as a last resort. Consult your rheumatologist about designing a treatment plan together that caters to your needs. 

Proactive Care

You can take proactive steps today to prevent and ease joint pain. These self-care tips, when used along with medications and therapies, can help you manage the symptoms holding you back. 

Gentle exercise can help to fight fatigue and strengthen the muscles around your joints. Daily activities, such as walking, biking, or swimming will help to loosen your joints and improve your range of motion. Talk to your doctor to create an exercise routine that you can easily implement into your daily life. 

Heat therapy helps to relax tense muscles and heal damaged tissue. While cold therapy has a numbing effect that reduces swelling around joints. Both types help to alleviate pain and sooth tired muscles causing stiffness and tension. Talk to your doctor to find a remedy that works best for you. 

Finding time to relax will help you cope with the burden of joint and muscle pain. Techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, and guided meditation can help ease your mind and soothe your tired muscles. Talk to your doctor about ways to reduce stress in your life that could be affecting your rheumatic disease.