Joel D. Abbott, MD, works at Rheumatology Associates PC in Birmingham, Alabama. Board certified in internal medicine and rheumatology, his wonderful nature and treatment of patients were acknowledged by Vitals.com from 2008-2011 when he received the Patients' Choice Award. His areas of expertise include the diagnosis... more
Anyone living with fibromyalgia understands just how complicated and frightening it really is. Even within the medical community, there’s still a lot more to be discovered about fibromyalgia, its causes, and optimal treatment. Many patients experience a long and winding road that could include misdiagnosis, harmful treatment, and even being told that their disease is “not real”.
Those who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia have likely heard “rheumatology” being thrown around, but what’s the connection?
At first glance, you wouldn’t normally associate fibromyalgia with rheumatology, but the truth is that a Rheumatologist can provide services for fibro that other specialists can’t. Even though fibromyalgia is not considered a form of arthritis, and even though it doesn’t lead to joint or muscle inflammation, fibromyalgia does cause pain and fatigue similar to that experienced in patients living with arthritis. So, a rheumatologist will be very familiar with these symptoms and can confidently guide the patient throughout the treatment process.
Because of the similar symptoms, fibromyalgia could initially be misdiagnosed as a different inflammatory condition. But by ruling out rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases, a rheumatologist can help diagnose fibromyalgia. Typically, someone with fibromyalgia would discuss their symptoms with their Primary Care Practitioner or any other doctor they’ve been seeing for most of their adult life. Then, the PCP can refer the patient to a Rheumatologist to further discuss symptoms and eliminate any inflammatory conditions.
Since any good Rheumatologist keeps up with medical advances in terms of pain relief and management, someone in this field has the potential to make a tremendous difference in the life of someone living with the struggles of fibromyalgia.