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Rheumatic Disease FAQ

What is rheumatology?

Rheumatology is the study of rheumatism, arthritis and other disorders of the joints, muscles and ligaments.

What are rheumatic diseases?

Rheumatic diseases are autoimmune and inflammatory diseases that cause the immune system to attack a person’s joints, muscles, bones and organs.

Rheumatic diseases are often lumped under the term arthritis, which describes over 100 diseases. Under this umbrella, there are more than 30 inflammatory rheumatic diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, gout, scleroderma, juvenile arthritis and more.

With rheumatic diseases, patients develop deformities so severe that simple tasks, such as walking, brushing your hair or getting dressed in the morning, become difficult and sometimes impossible.

What are the symptoms of rheumatic disease? When should I see a rheumatologist?

While rheumatic disease affects each body in different ways, all can impact your health and sense of well-being.

Some common symptoms of rheumatic disease include:

  • Swelling in one or more joints. For instance, this might be your wrist, elbow, knee or one of the smaller joints in the hands or feet.
  • Stiffness around your joints that lasts for at least one hour, starting in the early morning.
  • Joint pain or tenderness. This pain may come and go or hurt all the time.
  • Inflammation. Your joint can look red or feel warm to the touch.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, discuss them with your doctor and ask whether you should see a rheumatologist.

What do rheumatologists do?

Rheumatologists are doctors specially trained to diagnose, manage and treat arthritis and rheumatic diseases.

Just as you would go to an oncologist to treat cancer, it is critical to go to a rheumatologist to receive the best total care for a rheumatic disease.

Rheumatologists have a deep understanding of the physical, mental, economic and societal impacts of rheumatic diseases and are skilled at recognizing and treating the wide array of rheumatic disease symptoms that can affect almost any organ in the body.

When should I see a rheumatologist?

If you are experiencing symptoms of rheumatic disease, you should talk to your doctor about them immediately and ask whether you should see a rheumatologist.

The first weeks and months following the onset of rheumatic disease symptoms are known as the “window of opportunity,” and it’s crucial that patients get appropriate treatment in that time period to avoid long-term complications.

Treatment early in the disease — even within the first 12 weeks for some patients — can prevent damage to joints and other organs, improve long-term function and increase the likelihood of achieving disease remission.

If left untreated, rheumatic diseases cause progressive damage to affected organs and joints. Substantial research demonstrates that early and aggressive treatment significantly improves patient outcomes.

A recent study shows that patients who receive treatment within 12 weeks of disease onset report nearly 30 percent less pain after 36 months than those patients who receive treatment after 12 weeks.

What are some common misconceptions about rheumatic disease?

A common misconception about arthritis and rheumatic diseases is that they are just the “aches and pains” that accompany getting older. In fact, two-thirds of people living with rheumatic diseases are under the age of 65. These diseases often strike people in the prime of their lives and can be crippling, life-changing and life-threatening.

Rheumatic diseases also strike children and they carry the same destructive blow to a child’s health and well-being as they do to an adult’s. In fact, hundreds of thousands of American children live with rheumatic diseases. It is estimated that one child in every 1,000 will develop some form of rheumatic disease.

Another misconception about rheumatic diseases is that they solely impact women. While women and minorities are disproportionately affected, five percent of men in the U.S. will develop a rheumatic disease during their lifetime. Men are far more likely than women to receive the diagnosis of gout.

What are some of the treatment challenges facing arthritis patients today?

One of the treatment challenges facing arthritis patients today is the high out-of-pocket costs for specialty therapies. Many insurance companies have placed breakthrough arthritis treatments on so-called “specialty tiers,” which force patients to pay a percentage of the total drug cost, rather than a fixed copay amount. Because these drugs are so expensive, monthly copays for patients can easily reach into the thousands of dollars. This forces a lot of patients to choose between their health and financial debt. No patient should have to make that choice.

Arthritis care could also benefit from investment in medical research. More federal funding for the National Institutes of Health and specifically for arthritis research is needed to understand these diseases and fast-track new treatments and therapies.

What can people do to advocate for individuals living with arthritis and rheumatic diseases?

Anyone interested in arthritis advocacy should visit our Action Center. You can also share your story and find more information about how to advocate for people living with arthritis and rheumatic diseases.

What is one thing that people need to know above all else concerning rheumatic diseases?

People can live productive, fulfilling, happy lives with rheumatic diseases. By working to ensure that all patients can access treatment during the window of opportunity, rheumatologists can help their patients live comfortably and do many of the things they did before their diagnosis.

Interventional Pain FAQ

What is interventional pain management?

Interventional pain management is a department of pain management that specializes in an array of pain-blocking techniques often in the form of injection therapies.

What does an interventional pain anesthesiologist do?

An interventional pain anesthesiologist should be double-board-certified in both anesthesiology and pain management. This type of physician can treat all levels of pain through minimally invasive techniques such as injection therapy, ablation or implantation of a spinal cord stimulator.

What type of treatments can an interventional pain anesthesiologist provide?

Interventional pain anesthesiologists provide treatments such as epidural steroid injections, nerve blocks, radiofrequency ablation, insertion of a spinal cord stimulator, facet joint injections, lumbar sympathetic plexus blocks and trigger joint injections. All procedures are done on an outpatient basis.

When should I seek advice/treatment from an interventional pain management physician?

When pain interferes with your daily routine and cannot be managed through conservative therapies, you may seek the advice of an interventional pain management specialist to determine if you are a good candidate for these therapies.

Am I a suitable candidate for interventional pain management treatment?

To determine if you are a suitable candidate for interventional pain management treatment, your physician performs a series of assessments, including diagnostic and imaging tests, a review of your medical history and a physical exam.

What if I've already had surgery? Do interventional pain management specialists work in conjunction with my primary-care physician?

Interventional pain management specialists use a multidisciplinary' approach to pain management. Your interventional pain management specialist will work in close association with your primary-care physician and any other medical field that could integrate with your new treatment plan.

How is an interventional pain management specialist different from other pain management specialists?

Interventional pain management is different from other pain management practices because it emphasizes a precise diagnosis so treatment can begin immediately. Rather than just prescribing medication or only physical therapy, an interventional pain management specialist utilizes all sources of treatment to achieve the fastest and most effective way possible for each individual patient.

Can an interventional pain management specialist help me even if I've been in pain for years, and everyone says that nothing can be done to treat my pain?

An interventional pain management specialist can help patients with any level of pain, regardless of how long they have been suffering with it.

Does interventional pain management treatment involve the prescribing of pain medications?

Interventional pain management treatment utilizes therapeutic approaches to alleviate pain without the use of prescriptions. The majority of pain sufferers will have pain relief by multidisciplinary approaches. However, some patients will have better results with the use of prescribed medications.

Should I stop taking my medications before a pain procedure?

In most cases, your doctor will recommend discontinuation of your current medications before undergoing a procedure. Please consult your interventional pain management specialist to determine which medication(s) you should not take. Medicines such as Courmadin, Plavix, Pradaxa and Ticlid should all be ceased before a pain procedure.

I'm diabetic (or have another illness). Would this affect my ability to undergo interventional pain management treatment?

No. In fact, some interventional pain management treatments manage diabetes symptoms. Your doctor can determine if treatment will be safe and effective based on the patient’s initial exam.

What kinds of symptoms do interventional pain management specialists treat?

Interventional pain management specialists treat symptoms closely related to chronic pain. These can range from discomfort, difficulty sleeping, soreness and tightness to burning, aching and feelings of electric shock. Treatments can help relieve symptoms related to Parkinson's disease epilepsy, neuropathy, headaches, bone pain, back pain and muscle pain.

Can interventional pain management specialists treat fibromyalgia?

Yes. Fibromyalgia symptoms can be managed with interventional pain therapies.

What is the difference between acute and chronic pain?

Acute pain is typically the result of an injury, illness or surgery. In most cases, acute pain can be relieved in less than six months. Chronic pain is persistent pain that lasts longer than six months, even after an injury has been healed. One in five adults are living with what they describe as chronic pain.

What common concerns do patients voice before treatment, and how do you address them?

Before any procedure, your doctor will go over the risks of surgery or injection and the guidelines that every patient should follow. Patients will know what they can and cannot do prior to their surgery or injection and what will happen once they have received treatment.

If I choose to undergo interventional pain management treatment, will there be any limits on my activity afterward?

If you have received a sedative for your procedure, you are required to have someone available to drive you home afterward. We recommend that a patient who has received an interventional pain management treatment take it easy following their procedure. The patient can then determine what their limitations are for certain activities.

Are interventional pain management treatments successful?

Yes, they are successful for most patients. Some patients will have post-procedural pain where they have received treatment. However, that pain often quickly resolves. Based on the severity of your pain, further treatments may be required for effective results and significant pain reduction.

Our patients come to us from Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, Elgin, Elk Grove, Palatine, Hoffman Estates, Wheaton and nearby areas. For more information, please call Pain Therapy Associates at 847-352-5511 or use our convenient appointment request form today!

Pain Therapy Associates in Numbers

+30,240 Patients Treated
35 Years in Practice

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Dr.Dabah and his staff are always searching for ways to heal my neck pain. I am happy with the progress we are making as a team. The receptionists are always so cordial.


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Pain Therapy Associates
Tel: 847-352-5511
Fax: 847-352-5585

455 South Roselle Road, Suite 104
Schaumburg, IL 60193

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