Pediatricians take care of sick kids and obstetricians deliver babies. But when you check the phonebook for doctors who specialize in osteoporosis, you may not have the slightest idea where to start. There won’t be a listing for “boneologists”, so where you should start searching for a doctor to treat and diagnose osteoporosis? Osteoporosis cases account for millions of doctor visits and hundreds of thousands of hospital admissions each year, and yet there is no specialty that is devoted entirely to osteoporosis. A gynecologist or family practitioner is often the first person that diagnoses someone with osteoporosis before providing a recommendation to a specialist.
Choosing a doctor to diagnose or treat osteoporosis can be disorienting. With some health problems, the kind of health professional you choose is quite straightforward. For example, for those with eye problems, you wouldn’t choose a heart surgeon; you would go to the nearest ophthalmologist. But locating a doctor who has specialization in osteoporosis is difficult. As a matter of fact, you can find many kinds of doctors who can treat osteoporosis and they come from several different medical specialties. Locating the right physician under any circumstance is sometimes time consuming and frustrating. You should know what kind of specialists that can treat osteoporosis, create a plan to find the right doctor, find ways so you can work with your doctor and a get lowdown on financial aspects of doctor’s visits and medical treatment.
Starting with a family doctor or any medicine specialist won’t hurt. Some family medicine doctors or internists have a special interest or experience in osteoporosis and can be perfectly capable of dealing with your care. If your physician feels you need to see doctors with a primary practice that is closely related to osteoporosis, he may recommend a number of specialists. Even so, one large study indicated that osteoporosis may be more likely to be treated and diagnosed by specialists rather than internists or family practitioners. For example if your osteoporosis was diagnosed with a bone mineral testing, it is likely that you’ll be treated by a metabolic bone specialist, instead of rheumatologists, endocrinologists, or general internists.
If your doctor doesn’t immediately recommend a specialist, you should ask him why. There is a chance he has a strong interest in osteoporosis and always be updated with the latest developments. If so, that’s a good thing. However, if you think a specialist is better, tell your doctor.
A doctor who keeps your medical history is a good candidate for treating your osteoporosis, as long as he keeps up with the most recent development on osteoporosis and takes your condition seriously. There are many different medical specializations available today, where practitioners can treat patients with osteoporosis effectively. Your primary family doctor can help you choose which one is the best for you:
Rheumatologists: They diagnose and treat problems of muscles, joints, and bones, including autoimmune disorders such as lupus. In general rheumatology is a sub-specialty of internal medicine and rheumatologists requires board certifications in both rheumatology and internal medicine.
Endocrinologists: They treat endocrine system diseases, which is certainly obvious. The endocrine system is consisted of the hormones and glands that control our metabolic activity. Endocrinologists can treat diabetes, pituitary diseases and thyroid problems. It is also a sub-specialty of internal medicine and endocrinologists may have a strong interest in osteoporosis because problems in endocrine system often cause osteoporosis.
Geriatricians: They treat senior citizens (also known as geriatric patients). When are we included in this category? Although some of us would say “never!” the scientifically recognized definition of “geriatric” is usually 65 and above. Because many seniors citizen have osteoporosis, most geriatricians are capable in treating it.
Gynecologists: Because women are more likely to have osteoporosis, many gynecologists can treat women’s osteoporosis. If you are a man, though, you may feel a bit funny sitting among female patients in the waiting room, so you can skip this one.
Orthopedic surgeons: They specialize in treating muscles and bones. Some have interest in treating osteoporosis.
Physiatrists: They are often mistaken with everything from podiatrists to psychologists! Physiatrists have specialization in physical rehabilitation and related medication, dealing with acute injuries and also chronic conditions such as osteoporosis and arthritis.
Some doctors have taken supplemental course in reading bone mineral density tests; those who have taken this type of training usually have a specialized interest in osteoporosis. Some organizations offer courses for doctors who are interested in learning how to understand bone mineral density tests. Ask your doctor if he has taken such trainings. Some rheumatologists, orthopedic surgeons and endocrinologists often can diagnose and treat patients who have metabolic bone disease accurately, because their works often involves studying bone problems.
For unusual or difficult cases, metabolic bone specialist is often a good choice. However, many metabolic bone specialists have practices in large universities, which may be a little impractical to visit regularly if you are living in rural areas. If you do, you should have an early consultation at a big university and ask your family doctor at home to continue the treatment. This option can be good for those who live far from a large university, but can spend a couple of days out of town to see a specialist.