About Rheumatology

A Rheumatologist is a physician specialized in the field of medical sub-specialty called rheumatology, and holds a board certification after specialized training. In Sri Lanka a to become a Rheumatologist a MBBS qualified Doctor must successfully complete the Doctor of Medicine examination held by the Post Graduate Institute of Medicine, University of Colombo. After this they have to undergo Rheumatology training in both local and Overseas training centres. This involves fellowship training in countries like United Kingdom and Australia. This training requires five years of medical school, followed by a minimum one year of work as a doctor and then three years of Post graduate training in medicine to obtain a MD, followed by three years of Rheumatology training.

Rheumatologists are are qualified by additional postgraduate training and experience in the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis and other diseases of the joints, muscles and bones. Treatment modalities are based on scientific research, currently, practice of rheumatology is largely evidence based.

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 and the specialty is also interrelated with physiotherapy, physical medicine and rehabilitation of disabled patients. Patient education programs and occupational therapy also go hand in hand with this specialty.

Diseases treated

Degenerative arthropathies

  • Osteoarthritis

Inflammatory arthropathies

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Spondyloarthropathies
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Reactive arthritis (reactive arthropathy)
  • Psoriatic arthropathy
  • Enteropathic spondylitis
  • Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA)
  • Crystal arthropathies: gout, pseudogout
  • Septic arthritis

Systemic conditions and connective tissue diseases

  • Lupus
  • Sjögren’s syndrome
  • Scleroderma (systemic sclerosis)
  • Polymyositis
  • Dermatomyositis
  • Polymyalgia rheumatica
  • Mixed connective tissue disease
  • Polychondritis
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Vasculitis
  • Microscopic Polyangiitis
  • Churg-Strauss Syndrome
  • Wegener’s granulomatosis
  • Polyarteritis nodosa
  • Henoch-Schönlein purpura
  • Serum sickness
  • Giant cell arteritis, Temporal arteritis
  • Takayasu’s arteritis
  • Behçet’s syndrome
  • Kawasaki’s disease (mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome)
  • Buerger’s disease (thromboangiitis obliterans)
  • Ehlers Danlos Syndrome

Soft Tissue Rheumatism

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:

  • Low back pain, Neck pain
  • Tennis elbow
  • Golfer’s elbow
  • Olecranon bursitis
  • Sports injuries