Making room for more rheumatologists

Making room for more rheumatologists

Make no bones about it, musculoskeletal problems including arthritis and rheumatism (an umbrella term for more than 200 crippling disorders (i.e. neck and back pain, osteoarthritis, bursitis, tendonitis and ankylosing spondylitis, etc.) are the leading cause of disability in America.

At the same time, the prognosis is only expected to get worse according to a recent study by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), which determined that within the next 13-years nearly 1/4th of all people living in the US will be afflicted with some form of crippling and/or chronic pain affecting their skeletons and connective tissue.

Even more frightening is the fact that while rheumatism and arthritis treatments already cost patients more than $128 billion per year (nearly 25% more than cancer care), many people go untreated due to an overwhelming shortage of specialists such as rheumatologists and rheumatology health professionals.

As a result, the Rheumatology Research Foundation is taking an active approach to remedy this by seeking to recruit medical students into the field via scholarships and research grants. They also took advantage of the Main Residency Match (March 17th), the day when medical school graduates learn where they will be placed for their residency program to encourage interns to enter the field.

“The shortage of doctors, especially rheumatologists, is a concern that drastically impacts the lives of people diagnosed with the rheumatic disease. Many patients must wait months to see a rheumatologist, which prolongs treatment and has a negative impact on their health, not to mention the impact that missed days at work and the cost of disability insurance has on the economy,” stated Mary Wheatley, IOM, CAE, the Foundation’s executive director.

The Rheumatology Research Foundation is the largest private funding source of rheumatology research and training programs in the United States and has focused its resources on advancing patient care and accelerating discoveries in rheumatic diseases since 1985.

Although initial therapy of the major rheumatological diseases today usually begins with analgesics, such as paracetamol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including ibuprofen and naproxen, stronger analgesics may be re required depending on the severity of the disease.

At the same time, modern medicine recognizes that alternative (herbal) remedies also have their place in treating different types of rheumatic disorders.

For instance, Greek folk medicine (going back to ancient times) has often found that bee venom was beneficial in treating some types, while certain tribes in the Amazon use fire ant stings to cure aches and pains. Meanwhile, East Indian cultures often use Neem oil, while other popular remedies include ointments made with menthol and camphor. Even cod liver oil has been used as a cure

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