R is for Rheumatology

Joints, Tissues and Muscles, Oh My!

Rheumatology involves the care of patients with conditions that affect the body’s joints, muscles and connective tissues. Melissa Schoenwetter, D.O., leads the NorthBay Medical Group rheumatology program and offers patients experience treating complex autoimmune diseases. These conditions are often complex, and can affect the joints, muscles, bones and even the internal organs and brain. “It is important to look at our patients as a whole when assessing a patient for a rheumatologic disease,” said Dr. Schoenwetter. “While labs and X-rays are helpful, listening to a patient’s history is one of the most important parts of a rheumatologic evaluation.”

The following are some conditions Dr. Schoenwetter sees:

Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term (chronic) disease that causes inflammation of the joints. The inflammation can be so severe that it affects how the joints and other parts of the body look and function. It may cause deformities in the joints of the fingers, making it difficult to move your hands. Lumps, known as rheumatoid nodules, may form anywhere in the body. The exact cause is not known. It is an autoimmune disorder, the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy cells and tissues.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting millions of people worldwide. It occurs when the protective cartilage on the ends of your bones wears down over time. Although it can damage any joint in your body, the disorder most commonly affects joints in the hands, knees, hips and spine.

Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when a body’s immune system attacks its own tissues and organs. Inflammation caused by lupus can affect many different body systems including your joints, kidneys, skin, blood cells, brain, heart and lungs.

Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes pain in muscles and soft tissues all over the body. It is a chronic condition. It is often associated with fatigue and non-restorative sleep, meaning you sleep but do not feel rested in the morning.

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