What do allergies have to do with arthritis?
On first consideration you wouldn't think that allergies have anything to do with arthritis. After all, what does the runny nose of hayfever have to do with the pain of rheumatoid arthritis? The answer is, the immune system.
Our immune system is like a security system of a house. Instead of keeping burglars out, our immune system is designed to protect us from outside invaders like bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. All organisms have an immune system and components of our immune system are found in clams and other shellfish. However, vertebrate organisms have a more advanced type of immune system. Sometimes, the immune system either fails to identify invaders that come into our body or it gets confused, and it attacks normal structures within our bodies. Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and other of these autoimmune conditions are examples of what happens when the immune system attacks normal body structures. However, we also developed an immune system originally directed at parasites that is also responsible for the symptoms we associate with hayfever. So, our immune system is responsible for hayfever reactions and other allergic reactions such as food allergies, drug allergies, etc., just as it is responsible for the pain and joint damage of rheumatoid arthritis. So, you see, there is a very clear connection between allergies and arthritis.
When you say you treat allergic and arthritic problems without surgery, what do you mean?
No one wants to have surgery if they don't have to. More than 90% of arthritic problems do not require surgery. So why do people commonly go to orthopedic surgeons? Without question, thank god for surgeons. The advances of minimally invasive surgery are dramatic. There are clearly circumstances where surgery is the only option. Yet, most people would agree that they would not be interested in surgery unless they had no other option. So why do people commonly go to orthopedic surgeons before going to their family doctors, a sports medicine physician, or rheumatologist? The reason is because orthopedic surgeons have been around as a profession much longer than rheumatologists. There are also far more orthopedic surgeons in the world than there are rheumatologists. So, one reason people go to orthopedic surgeons is simply because there may not be a rheumatologist available in the area, the rheumatologist is difficulty to get in to see, or because family doctors who refer patient have traditionally always referred to orthopedic surgeons rather than rheumatologists. However, if you think about it, if more than 90% of musculoskeletal and arthritic problems do not need surgery, why would you see a surgeon at all. Orthopedic surgeons make their money doing surgery. Most of us do not want surgery, so we probably should be seeing a specialist that treats arthritic disorders without surgery---
Rheumatologists treat arthritic problems with medications. I know there are many people reading this paragraph who view their body as a "temple." These people say that medications have side effects. So, why would you poison your body with drugs? However, medications are nothing but tools. A hammer comes in very handy when you want to drive in a nail. Sure, you could use a rock, the end of a screw driver, or just try to stomp on it with your shoe. A hammer can also be used as a weapon to kill someone. Like a gun, it is not the inherent nature of the tool that is necessarily dangerous, but he person using it. If it is not used properly, it can be a deadly weapon. Medications are like that, too. Sometimes a patient will come in saying that they have read the side effects relating to a medication and they would never take the drug. Well, if I develop two heads after taking a pill, yet the pill works wonderfully for you, is my bad experience really relevant to you?
No one ever wants to take medications. You only consider doing so, because you have to. You don't routinely carry around a hammer (unless you are a contractor), but if you find yourself in a situtation where you have to drive in a nail, a hammer is a pretty good thing to have.
So, while orthopedic surgeons look at the world asking the question what surgery would fix you arthritic problem, rheumatologist ask what medication or other non-surgical tools would make your arthritic problem better. Sometimes, exercise, physical therapy, the use of a sports trainer, a change in diet, or even the use of vitamins and herbs can be helpful for an arthritic or allergic problem. However, there are times that these things just will not do. That is when you have to think about medications, perhaps injections, or other non-surgical options.
Over the past 30 years, the fastest growing field in developing new non-surgical options for arthritic and allergic problems has been through the hands of clinical immunologist. Clinical immunologists are of two types. They are what you know as Allergists and Rheumologists. There are two separate training routes for physicians. There are separate board certication exams involved leading to board certification. There are only a handful of physicians in the United States who are board certified in both Allergy and Rheumatology. If you see either an allergist or a rheumatologist, there is a 99% chance that they are not board certified in both of these fields. The medical providers at The Allergy & Arthritis Treatment Center are board certified in both Allergy/Immunology and Rheumatology. There is no other similar facility in Southwest Florida with this distinction.