Rheumatism: Early diagnosis is the key By Dr Arifa Haleema

Rheumatology is a super-specialty branch of medicine which deals with the connective tissues of the body like bones, joints, muscles, ligaments and so on.

A Rheumatologist deals with ailments like joint pain and swelling, muscle pain, back pain at an young age, skin tightening, recurrent and undiagnosed headaches, chronic coughs and breathlessness, rashes on the skin, severe hair fall that does not respond to any treatment, recurrent oral or genital ulcers, skin conditions like psoriasis, skin ulcers and discolouration; bluish or white discoloration of fingers on exposure to cold environments, kidney dysfunction not due to any known chronic illness, ulcers at tips of fingers, recurrent miscarriages not due to any gynaecological problems, recurrent redness and pain in eyes, dryness of eyes and mouth.

The diseases that a Rheumatologist treats are Rheumatoid arthritis, Juvenile Rheumatoid arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Spondyloarthropathies, Psoriatic arthritis, Systemic lupus erythematosus, i.e., lupus, Scleroderma, Sjogren’s syndrome, Myopathies, and Osteoporosis.

It is a relatively lesser-known field, and hence there is the possibility of delay in diagnosis and effective treatment. Most of the patients who decide to consult a Rheumatologist would already have met several specialists, and by the time a patient reaches us, he or she might have already developed complications related to the disease.

Complications like deformities, major organ affliction, and severe skin damages can be treated, but it could be a long-drawn-out process. Also, as these complications are severe, treatment may prove heavy on the pocket. However, with the availability of better investigation facilities and medications, there are more chances of a patient recovering completely and pretty fast if he or she consults a doctor in time.

These diseases need to be diagnosed early, and regular follow-up is a must. It also requires patience on the part of the doctor as well as the patient.

Treatment of a Rheumatological disease is a team effort. At Indiana Hospital, we have an up to date laboratory equipped to handle all investigations; quality treatment modalities, a radiology team and a consultant who is available round-the-clock to help in correctly diagnosing the disease. We also have a very helpful, caring and active Physiotherapy team. Hence, we are confident that we can provide the best treatment to our patients that would help them to lead a quality life once they leave the hospital.

If you have any of the above-mentioned symptoms or diseases, consult a Rheumatologist at the earliest.

l Dr. Arifa Haleema is a Consultant Rheumatologist at Indiana Hospital and Heart Institute, Mangaluru. For appointments, call Indiana at 0824 2880880.

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