The information that follows is designed to answer many of the common questions most patients have and we hope this will help you to understand our policies and methods of practice.

    If aches and pains are not severe and not disabling, it makes sense to give the problem a reasonable chance to go away. But what if it doesn't go away? How do you know when to consult a physician? You should see a doctor if pain persists, if there is swelling around the joint, or if worrying about it is making you nervous.

    Maybe. A rheumatologist is a physician specialist who works with patients who have persisting aches and pains. A rheumatologist can do two important things. She or he can examine you and tell you whether or not you have a rheumatic disease.  If you do, s/he is uniquely qualified to diagnose and treat your condition.  Basically, a rheumatologist is a specialist in internal medicine who has received further training in the diagnosis and treatment of the more than 100 different diseases known collectively as arthritis and rheumatism. Rheumatology is field of medicine that deals with the causes and treatment of painful conditions in the bones, joints, neck, back, muscles, bursal sacs, and tendons. Wonder is sometimes expressed that anyone should specialize in “a disease for which there is no known cause or cure." The situation is not, however, as hopeless as the statement above might suggest.  There is in fact much that can be done to control the progression and activity of many of these rheumatic diseases, and to help improve the quality of life for patients with these disorders.
    By seeing a specialist, you can be sure that you are being treated by someone who really understands arthritis, a disease that is misunderstood by many – even other doctors.

    With arthritis, the lining of the joints gets inflamed, irritating the soft tissues (cartilage and synovial membrane) that cover and protect the bone, which can cause damage. Other rheumatological conditions affect the soft tissues that surround the bone and joints (muscles, ligaments, and tendons).   Some of the most common forms of rheumatic diseases are rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout, fibromyalgia, tendinitis, bursitis , lupus, and ankylosing spondylitis. Some of the more unusual forms include sarcoidosis, dermatomyositis, and scleroderma, as well as many other illnesses where joint and muscle pains may be one manifestation of the whole disease spectrum and may provide clues for diagnosis and further management. It is important for you to know that although some of these are very serious illnesses, difficult to understand and to treat, many of them appear in very mild form and may respond extremely well to treatment. If you are fortunate, it may take just a single visit for diagnosis and treatment.  If it should prove to be a more complex problem, prompt diagnosis and treatment are important to your comfort and long term well being.                

    "Time is of essence. I let most of the years go by, stringing along, thinking this would go away, and all the time the damage was taking place. If I had seen a rheumatologist sooner I believe it would have made a big difference."
    The surprise is that specialized care may save you time and money.  A skilled rheumatologist can more readily spot clues in the medical history and physical examination.  Specialist expertise may make it possible to make a diagnosis without putting you through the trouble and expense of diagnostic studies, which may not be necessary. The proper tests done early, although seemingly costly, may save money in the long run. Prompt diagnosis and targeted treatment save money and often buy precious time in treating arthritis and rheumatism. In some cases only one visit will be required.  In others, ongoing treatment will be necessary.

    No. Even though we appreciate it if you are referred to us by your family physician, a referral is not necessary and you can make an appointment directly through our office. It is not uncommon for patients select a rheumatologist directly, and to either request continued supervision by us, or to ask that a report with recommendations be sent your family physician for an ongoing treatment.  Our office limits practice to rheumatology.  We work in cooperation with your family physician, other physicians involved, and also with each other for your best interests.  It is expected that you have a primary care provider for routine and general medical problems, as they will not be handled in our office.


Office phone number 716.282.3310
Office fax number 716.282.3346