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Main Line (Austin Area)
Orthopedic Surgeon Austin TX

What’s the Difference Between Orthopedics and Rheumatology?

Approximately 1 out of every 4 adult Americans experience joint pain and stiffness caused by conditions such as arthritis or gout [1]. According to recent research, an estimated 24% of American adults (approximately 58.5 million people) have been diagnosed with gout, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, general arthritis, or fibromyalgia [2]. When suffering from persistent, acute, or chronic pain, knowing whom to consult for the right treatment is a crucial first step.

Both orthopedics and rheumatology specialists can provide effective management and treatment of these conditions. However, while one treats them with surgical options, the other explores medical and non-surgical treatment options to provide pain relief. Knowing the key differences between the two specialties will help you decide which is right for you before scheduling a consultation.

Before we dive into the key differences between these specialized branches of musculoskeletal disorders, let’s have a quick look at these general distinctions :

  • Rheumatologists use medication and non-surgical treatment options to treat inflammatory autoimmune disorders and other conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system.
  • Orthopedists use surgical treatment options to treat conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system.

What Does an Orthopedist Do?

Orthopedists are specialists in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of the musculoskeletal system as well as its related bones, muscles, ligaments, connective tissues, and joints. Orthopedists and orthopedic surgeons are trained to use multimodalities in the diagnosis and treatment of the musculoskeletal system for any area that has experienced injuries, traumas, or disorders.

You are usually referred to an orthopedist under the following circumstances:

  1. You have joint or musculoskeletal pain from an injury or disorder.
  2. You need surgical intervention to repair or replace a painful/damaged joint.

Following are some conditions evaluated, diagnosed, and treated by orthopedists:

  • Pinched nerve
  • Neuropathy
  • Whiplash
  • Joints requiring surgical repair/replacement

When to Visit an Orthopedist?

If you have had a recent injury or disorder affecting your musculoskeletal system, an orthopedist is the one who can assist you with a timely evaluation and treatment. It may or may not involve surgical intervention. If you are experiencing any of the following signs and symptoms, your physician may refer you to an orthopedist:

  1. Severe joint pain that affects your mobility and ability to function normally
  2. Joint or musculoskeletal pain caused by an injury
  3. Moderate or advanced arthritis in the knee/hip
  4. Progressive pain in the hip or knee that is aggravated when carrying weight

You may also be referred to an orthopedist if all other treatments have failed and you have become a potential candidate for a joint replacement or other surgical procedures.

What Does a Rheumatologist Do?

Rheumatologists are sometimes referred to as arthritis doctors. Their purview of evaluation and treatment, however, is much wider and extends to diseases affecting the bone, joint, muscle, and connective tissues. Rheumatologists are well-versed in the treatment of many different types of inflammatory autoimmune disorders and conditions that affect the human body. Autoimmune disorders occur when the patient’s immune system ‘attacks’ its own healthy body tissue instead of protecting the body from external infections.

Following are some of the conditions evaluated and treated by rheumatologists:

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis 
  • Gout
  • Lupus
  • Myositis
  • Dermatomyositis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Erythematosus
  • Antiphospholipid syndrome
  • Scleroderma
  • Vasculitis
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Polymyalgia Rheumatica
  • Sjogren’s syndrome

When to Visit a Rheumatologist?

If you have been experiencing acute or persistent bone or joint pain that is not a result of an injury, a rheumatologist should be your first point of contact for evaluation.

Additionally, if you are having fever, fatigue, rash, and/or stiffness, it could be a sign of an autoimmune disease that needs to be evaluated by a rheumatologist.

Consult a rheumatologist immediately in case of any of the following symptoms:

  • Joint pain without an injury
  • Pain in multiple joints
  • Pain accompanied by chest pain, tiredness, fever, rash, etc.
  • Blood tests indicating rheumatic disease
  • Joint pain with psoriasis
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Joint pain along with leg pain or back pain
  • Muscular pain with/without other symptoms
  • Swollen joints
  • Widespread Pain
  • Unexplained episodes of headaches and muscle aches

Schedule Your Visit with a Rheumatologist in APC Today!

A rheumatologist is trained to treat conditions relating to the patient’s joints, muscles, and bones. At Advanced Pain Care, we facilitate multimodal and multidisciplinary treatment for all your medical conditions.

Whether you are experiencing severe arthritis, joint pain, or any other conditions related to your musculoskeletal system, Advanced Pain Care has all the specialists you need collaborating to facilitate the best possible treatment. You can receive timely pain management interventions from our specialists at all our different pain care centers.

Advanced Pain Care accepts insurance coverage from different network carriers, check if your insurance provider is listed.

We have a patient portal to facilitate easy access to all our facilities including prescriptions and bill pay. You can also refill a prescription or request records online should you need them.We have several centers serving the locations of Austin, Amarillo, and Waco/Killeen as well as advanced surgery centers in Round Rock, Austin, and Amarillo. You can contact us on our main line at 512-244-4272 or check our website for center-specific contact details.