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Do You Need a Rheumatologist or an Orthopedic Surgeon?

Patients should use the guidelines below to help determine if they should choose an rheumatologist or an orthopedic physician for their arthritis and joint pain.

Recommendations On Choosing a Rheumatologist or an Orthopedic Physician at UMass Memorial Medical Center?

Patients may need a rheumatologist if they have:

  • Pain involving many joints
  • New joint pain not associated with any injury
  • Joint or musculoskeletal pain associated with morning stiffness, fever, fatigue, rash or chest pain
  • Joint pain that developed after a tick bite
  • Joint pain associated with back pain and stiffness
  • Joint pain associated with psoriasis
  • Muscle pain
  • New headaches associated with muscle aches, in individuals over the age of 50
  • Back pain
  • Unexplained, ongoing symptoms such as fever, sweats or weight loss (in the absence of infection or cancer)


Patients may need an orthopedic physician if they have:

  • Joint or musculoskeletal pain that began after an injury
  • Gradually progressive hip or knee pain that is worse when bearing weight
  • Joint pain that is severe and interfering with function
  • Moderate or advanced arthritis of the knee or hip
  • Previous unsuccessful medical treatment for joint pain
  • Been told by their doctor they might need a joint replacement

Our patients’ medical needs are important and unique, which is why UMass Memorial Medical Center offers specialty trained physicians who have devoted their careers to treating your specific medical condition.