Arthritis (cont.)

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Can arthritis be prevented?

Since most forms of arthritis are inherited to some degree, there is no real way to prevent them. Arthritis that follows joint injury could be prevented by adhering to safety regulations and trying to avoid becoming injured. Arthritis related to infection (for examples, septic arthritis, reactive arthritis, Whipple's disease) could be prevented by not becoming infected with the causative organism. The extent to which this is possible varies depending upon the individual condition.

What is the national financial impact of arthritis?

It has been estimated that the total cost of the arthritis bill for the United States, in terms of hospitalization, doctor visits, medications, physical therapies, nursing-home care, lost wages, early death, and family discord is over $50 billion dollars annually.

This does not include the nearly $2 billion spent each year in the United States on unproven remedies by patients addressing their symptoms on their own.

What is a rheumatologist?

A rheumatologist is a medical doctor who specializes in the nonsurgical treatment of rheumatic illnesses, especially arthritis.

Rheumatologists have special interests in unexplained rash, fever, arthritis, anemia, weakness, weight loss, fatigue, joint or muscle pain, autoimmune disease, and anorexia. They often serve as consultants, acting like medical detectives at the request of other doctors.

Rheumatologists have particular skills in the evaluation of the over 100 forms of arthritis and have special interests in rheumatoid arthritis, spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, antiphospholipid syndrome, Still's disease, dermatomyositis, Sjögren's syndrome, vasculitis, scleroderma, mixed connective tissue disease, sarcoidosis, Lyme disease, osteomyelitis, osteoarthritis, back pain, gout, pseudogout, relapsing polychondritis, Henoch-Schonlein purpura, serum sickness, reactive arthritis, Kawasaki disease, fibromyalgia, erythromelalgia, Raynaud's disease, growing pains, iritis, osteoporosis, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, and others.

Classical adult rheumatology training includes four years of medical school, one year of internship in internal medicine, two years of internal-medicine residency, and two years of rheumatology fellowship. There is a subspecialty board for rheumatology certification, offered by the American Board of Internal Medicine, which can provide board certification to approved rheumatologists.

Pediatric rheumatologists are physicians who specialize in providing comprehensive care to children (as well as their families) with rheumatic diseases, especially arthritis.

Pediatric rheumatologists are pediatricians who have completed an additional two to three years of specialized training in pediatric rheumatology and are usually board-certified in pediatric rheumatology.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/11/2012

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