Ask the Rheumatologist

By Dr. Michael Rozboril

Dr. Michael Rozboril earned his medical degree from the University of Illinois Abraham Lincoln School of Medicine. He completed his internship and residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School. After completing a Fellowship in Rheumatology at the University of Michigan, Dr. Rozobril practiced medicine in Michigan before moving to Gainesville, FL in 1985. Dr. Rozboril is currently a practicing Rheumatologist at SIMEDHealth in Gainesville, FL.

„Who are rheumatologists?
A rheumatologist is a physician trained in the specialty of internal medicine who has then advanced their training by completing a fellowship in the eld of Rheumatology. These physicians are eligible to be board certified in the specialties of both Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

„What are rheumatologists trained to do?
Rheumatology primarily focuses on the area of medicine dealing with the aches and pains in our muscles and joints. All forms of arthritis, as well as autoimmune problems are diagnosed and treated by Rheumatologists. Rheumatologists use medications, therapies, bracing, and other non-surgical modalities to treat these conditions.

„What do rheumatologists treat?
The most common problem we deal with is Osteoarthritis which is the degenerative wear and tear our joints su er as we get older, or a reaction to previous joint trauma from accidents or repetitive use. We also diagnose and treat other bone diseases like Osteoporosis. Another important set of diseases we diagnose and manage include are a variety of autoimmune disorders. Conditions like Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Scleroderma, and “vasculitis” are the more common ones we see. These diseases are different from Osteoarthritis because they can affect not only the joints but internal organs and skin as well. Patients with these conditions can present with pain but also with rashes, eye disease, or even kidney failure. Diseases that rheumatologist diagnosis and treat, are they hereditary or can people prevent them? Some of these diseases have a genetic basis but more often environmental factors, medications, and sometimes bad luck prevail. Diet and exercise play an important role as appropriate fitness and control of one’s weight can help reduce the everyday wear and tear our joints experience. Also, sometimes joint damage can occur if you’ve had an injury which was not treated properly over a period of time.

„When should I see a rheumatologist?
Patients are often referred to a rheumatologist by their primary care provider when they have muscle or joint symptoms that are either difficult to diagnose or treat. Muscle pain might require one approach, while muscle weakness could signify a life-threatening disease that requires a very different approach. Rheumatologists often co-manage their diseases with other specialists like orthopedics, ophthalmologists, and nephrologists. Some patients do not feel comfortable with their diagnosis or despite attempts at treatment are having persistent symptoms; it is appropriate for them to refer themselves for another opinion. In any event, if you are experiencing joint pain, inflammation, an unknown rash, or if your symptoms return after stopping a prescribed medication, speak to your physician immediately.

„My joints are chronically sore, should I see a rheumatologist?
We all have joint aches and pains. Joint aches and pains can be related to an acute injury or illness. However, if your pain doesn’t resolve quickly, or if it returns after stopping medication, call your physician’s office. Your primary care physician is a great place to start. He or she can determine if the symptoms you are experiencing require a referral to rheumatologist. If your symptoms persist, your primary care doctor will know the best specialist to refer you to.

„My skin has become sensitive and painful, is this something to worry about? Should I see a rheumatologist or a dermatologist?          A skin rash could be dermatologic problem, like Psoriasis, for example, and many of these patients can have an associated Psoriatic Arthritis. You are welcome to see a Rheumatologist for these symptoms, but your Primary Care Physician can often help you determine if the cause of your skin problems require a rheumatologist, dermatologist or even an allergist.

„My muscle(s) continually spasms and twitches. Should I be concerned? Should I see someone about it?
Muscle spasms and twitching can be the result of a variety of things. Stress, injury or illness can all cause muscle spasms. The best thing to do for persistent spasms or twitches is to call your doctor’s office. They can best advise you on your concerns.