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Autoimmune Disorders (Rheumatology)

For patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, gout, lupus, and other autoimmune disorders, East Valley Rheumatology and Osteoporosis at Steward Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center offers aggressive treatment options that may prevent tissue damage and permanent disability while improving quality of life.

What is a rheumatologist?

A rheumatologist is a type of internal medicine physician that treats autoimmune disorders. (An autoimmune disorder is a condition that occurs when the body’s own immune system attacks and destroys its own healthy tissue.) Rheumatologists undergo three years of internal medicine practice and a two- to three-year-long rheumatology fellowship. This time of intensive study and experience allows rheumatologists to gain a better understanding of diseases and disorders that may affect the autoimmune system.

What conditions does a rheumatologist treat?

Below, you can learn some basic information about a few of the conditions rheumatologists frequently treat at East Valley Rheumatology and Osteoporosis at Steward Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Often referred to as ‘RA’, rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic inflammatory disease that primarily affects the joints (though the disease can damage any part of the body). RA tends to affect smaller joints, such as those in the hands and feet. Though rheumatoid arthritis can develop at any age, it’s more common in patients over the age of 40. It’s also more prevalent in women than in men.


In a normal healthy body, bone tissue is constantly reabsorbed by the body and replaced. When new bone tissue production doesn’t keep up with bone loss, the condition is known as osteoporosis. Osteoporosis can occur in both men and women, but the highest risk groups are post-menopausal white and Asian women.

Systemic Lupus Erythematous

Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that can damage any part of the body, including the skin, joints, and internal organs. Lupus occurs when the body’s autoimmune system attacks tissues and organs. While the cause of lupus is unknown, it is believed that certain people may have a genetic predisposition toward the disease, which can be activated by environment. Sun exposure and certain medications are believed to be possible triggers. Individuals with lupus usually experience signs and symptoms that flare up and then improve and recede.

Should you see a rheumatologist?

If you’re suffering from any of the symptoms or conditions listed above, then a rheumatologist may be able to help reduce symptoms and prevent tissue damage. Your primary care provider may refer you to a rheumatologist if…

  • You are experiencing joint pain, tenderness, or swelling, and would prefer to see a specialist other than a surgeon.
  • A DEXA scan has revealed bone thinning, indicating the onset of osteoporosis.
  • You are experiencing symptoms that your physician cannot diagnose and/or believes to be caused by an autoimmune disorder.
  • Lab test results have indicated you could have an autoimmune disorder (e.g. a positive antinuclear antibodies [ANA] test or elevated rheumatoid factor [RF] levels in the blood)

For more information about rheumatology services at East Valley Rheumatology and Osteoporosis at Steward Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center, or to schedule an appointment, contact us.



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Official Health Care Partners of the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury

Steward Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center
is formerly known as Hedley Orthopaedic Institute.