Psoriatic Arthritis: Why See a Specialist?


Allie Lemco Toren

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Psoriatic arthritis is a complex disease that affects everyone differently. That’s why all psoriatic arthritis patients should follow unique treatment plans tailored to their specific needs. But your primary care doctor and your dermatologist may not have all the information you need to manage your psoriatic arthritis successfully.

That’s where specialists come in: a psoriatic arthritis specialist, called a rheumatologist, has the right skills and insight to help you stay in control of your psoriatic arthritis. Here’s why:

1. A rheumatologist completes extensive training in psoriatic arthritis and is an expert in psoriatic arthritis care.

A rheumatologist is a physician who specializes in treating rheumatic disorders, which include musculoskeletal diseases and autoimmune conditions. Because this field spans many topics, rheumatologists must train extensively to master this area of study. A rheumatologist will have expertise in treating psoriatic arthritis and other conditions related to the musculoskeletal and immune systems.

All doctors complete a training program called a residency after they finish medical school. But rheumatologists receive considerable training beyond that. Rheumatologists spend several additional years in a fellowship, during which they train under experienced rheumatologists and focus on patients with psoriatic arthritis and issues affecting the musculoskeletal and immune systems. At the end of this period, specialists are qualified to take an exam to become board-certified rheumatologists. Look for a doctor who is board certified in rheumatology, and you’ll know you’re seeing an expert. 

2. A rheumatologist never stops learning about psoriatic arthritis.

To maintain their board certifications, rheumatologists must keep up with new developments in their field. They must complete continuing education and renew their licenses every few years, depending on the state in which they practice and other factors. By following these requirements, board-certified rheumatologists stay on top of new treatments and discoveries about the mechanisms involved in psoriatic arthritis, so they can then provide their patients with insightful, informed, and up-to-date treatment plans.

3. A rheumatologist has extensive experience in treating psoriatic arthritis.

Rheumatologists see a higher volume and concentration of patients with psoriatic arthritis, and thus are more experienced in treating the condition successfully. Because they see lots of patients with psoriatic arthritis, they can add real-world knowledge of the disease to their academic and clinical training. They’re able to assess how well patients respond to certain treatments, have a deeper understanding of how psoriatic arthritis progresses over time, share insight about effectively implementing lifestyle changes, and recognize symptoms that a general practitioner may miss, among other skills.

4. A rheumatologist is a team player.

Rheumatologists work with teams of other health care providers who treat patients with psoriatic arthritis and can connect patients with dermatologists, physical therapists, nurse practitioners, nutritionists, psychologists, and other experts in psoriatic arthritis management. Working with a team can help patients address all aspects of the disease and ensure success.

5. It’s easy to find the right rheumatologist for you.

There are thousands of rheumatologists in the United States, so how do you know which is the right doctor for you? By searching on, you can identify the best rheumatologist to help you manage your psoriatic arthritis successfully.

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Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Jan 9, 2017

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