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About Rheumatology

What is a rheumatologist?

A rheumatologist is a specialist physician who has expertise in diagnosing and treating diseases of the joints, muscles and bones.

Sometimes the term rheumatic disease or ‘rheumatism’ is used to describe this group of diseases.

Visit our Conditions page for information about common rheumatic diseases.

There are also a number of rarer rheumatic conditions that can affect other parts of the body including the skin, hair and internal organs. These include lupus, myositis, vasculitis and scleroderma.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

What will happen when I see my rheumatologist?

The diagnosis

Your rheumatologist is specially trained to do the detective work necessary to discover the cause of your symptoms. He or she will usually ask you to explain the history of the problem and will undertake a physical examination. Additional investigations such as blood tests, X-rays and scans may also be needed.

Information and advice

Once a diagnosis is made, your rheumatologist will explain the nature of your illness and what you might expect in the future. This is an important step, particularly for illnesses that might affect you over a long period.


With an accurate diagnosis and a shared understanding of your illness, you and your rheumatologist can work together to design a treatment program aimed at managing pain, reducing inflammation and ensuring your quality of life.

Ongoing management

Depending on the nature of your illness, you may need to see your rheumatologist regularly for ongoing management. Alternatively you may be treated by your GP, with the rheumatologist on hand for specialist advice.

How will my condition be treated?

As your rheumatologist will explain, there are a number of treatment options available including:

They will select the best treatment combination for you, depending on the exact nature of your illness and your other individual needs.

In treating and managing your illness, your rheumatologist will also work closely with your General Practitioner as well as other skilled professionals to ensure that you receive the best possible care:

Pain management

Living with pain can be one of the hardest parts of having arthritis. View the ARA information sheet on Pain Management to understand the pain cycle and learn techniques that may help you cope with pain.

Drug information

Visit the Australian Rheumatology Association website for information sheets specific to common medications.