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Rheumatology is the medical specialty that studies and treats systemic autoimmune diseases, diseases in which the body mistakenly attacks healthy cells. Inflammatory rheumatological conditions can be painful and affect multiple systems in the body, including the musculoskeletal (muscles, bones, cartilage), skin, kidneys, lungs, and nervous system. Joint problems are the most common in rheumatic conditions.

The board-certified rheumatologists at the state-of-the-art center for rheumatology at NYC Health + Hospitals/South Brooklyn Health provide comprehensive diagnosis and care for patients with rheumatic diseases, including:

  • Gout: Gout is a common form of inflammatory arthritis, often causing severe pain in the big toe or other joints.
  • Fibromyalgia: Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes widespread musculoskeletal pain. It is often diagnosed after other potential diseases are ruled out. Causes are not known and there is not a defined cure, but treatment for pain, including oral medication, exercise, and stress reduction can relieve symptoms.
  • Lupus: Lupus, also known as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), is a chronic disease that can cause damage to the kidneys, lungs, nervous system, and skin.
  • Osteoarthritis:Osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis that affects joints, including cartilage, ligaments, and bone. The risk of the disease increases with age and results from the breakdown of cartilage over time. It is the most common form of arthritis and occurs most frequently in the hands, hips, and knees, and is more common in people who have experienced sports-related injuries. It also affects more women than men.
  • Psoriatic arthritis: Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritis that is linked with psoriasis, a chronic condition affecting the skin.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disorder that, in addition to causing pain and inflammation in the joints, can damage the lining of the joints, and cause painful swelling, bone erosion, and joint deformity. It can also damage other parts of the body, including blood vessels, eyes, heart, lungs, and skin.
  • Sjogren’s syndrome: Sjogren’s syndrome causes dry mouth and dry eyes because the mucous membranes and moisture-secreting glands stop producing moisture effectively. The condition can cause complications in other body systems. Most Sjogren’s patients are women over the age of 40, but it can occur in men and at younger ages as well.
  • Vasculitis: Vasculitis refers to a group of disorders that cause inflammation in blood vessels. The inflammation causes thickening, weakening, narrowing, and scarring of the blood vessels. The condition can be acute and temporary or chronic.

Symptoms of rheumatic conditions include:

  • Fatigue
  • Generalized weakness
  • Hair loss
  • Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling
  • Skin rashes, lesions

Rheumatic diseases can be diagnosed through blood tests and imaging. Treatment often works to change the activity of the immune system and decrease its attack on otherwise healthy systems and reduce the inflammation those attacks cause. Your doctor may also prescribe oral medications and therapies, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and oral or topical analgesics (painkillers). Patients may also be put on regimens of corticosteroids or biologics to help with more significant inflammation. Non-drug treatments include specific exercise programs, physical, occupational, and other therapies, as well as splints and braces. In some cases, surgery is recommended.

Rheumatic conditions can be painful and chronic and can negatively impact your quality of life. Allow our team of expert rheumatologists in New York City to provide you with the best care possible.

For more information about the Division of Rheumatology or to schedule an appointment, please contact: 1-844-692-4692.