Medicine is a miraculous and expansive field of science. We’ve gone from having general physicians to an array of specialists that focus their treatments on a particular disorder, condition or body system.
Technology has been a big part of the progress, including tools to help patients. There are a lot of internet resources that can help you find the best physician, but before you start your search you need to know what type of doctor you’re looking for. Knowing which specialist treats your ailment is the best way to get the help you need to feel better.
Below is a list of different types of doctors to highlight how varied the medical practice is and provide guidance on which physician you may need to see if you’re experiencing a medical condition.
Joint and muscle pain are among the most common medical ailments. Doctors that treat muscle, bone and joint diseases are known as rheumatologists. If you suffer from arthritis, which is a very common disease, you’ll need to see a rheumatologist.
Rheumatology is a type of internal medicine that requires 9-10 years of education and training. Within that period rheumatologists will do 2-3 years of training within a particular rheumatology specialty. Some rheumatologists specialize in the treatment of children, which requires training in pediatrics.
According to the American Heart Association, over 85 million Americans live with some form of cardiovascular disease or have had a stroke. As you age the risks of cardiovascular disease increase. That means at some point in life, many Americans will need the help of a cardiologist.
Cardiologists are doctors that treat heart disease as well as heart and cardiovascular system abnormalities. They are able to administer stress tests, blood tests and imaging tests to determine the nature of the problem. A cardiologist also comes up with a treatment plan to address the issues. Treatments can include prescribing medication and advising patients on diet and lifestyle changes. A cardiovascular surgeon is a type of cardiologist that operates on the heart, blood vessels, and even the lungs.
Oncologists specialize in the treatment of cancer. There are actually many specialties within this specialty. An oncologist will typically specialize in the treatment of specific cancer. For instance, an oncologist may treat breast cancer exclusively. Or they could specialize in childhood leukemia.
Given that there are more than 100 types of cancer, people who have been diagnosed need to focus on finding a doctor that treats their type.
Gynecologists and Obstetricians
The treatment of ailments within the female reproductive and urinary system is handled by a gynecologist. This medical specialty is sometimes confused with obstetricians because many doctors are OB/GYNs. That means that are both licensed as a gynecologist and an obstetrician.
However, there is a distinct difference. While gynecologists treat the reproductive system, obstetricians specialize in pregnancy care and the delivery of babies. Obstetricians also provide postpartum care after the baby is born.
As the name suggests, allergists specialize in treating allergies as well as asthma. They are also sometimes called immunologists.
If you believe you are suffering from an allergy an allergist can administer tests to determine what it is you’re allergic to and the best course of treatment. The possibilities can range from food allergies to skin allergies to seasonal allergies.
Orthopedic Physicians and Surgeons
Orthopedic physicians and surgeons treat the musculoskeletal system. Their expertise is often required when a person fractures a bone or suffers a spine injury. They diagnose and treat the problem, which may require surgery. Orthopedic physicians are also crucial during the rehabilitation and recovery process.
Any condition that affects the nerves or nervous system should be addressed by a neurologist. They diagnose and treat all diseases and injuries within this system, including the spinal cord and brain.
Neurology is a highly specialized field that includes a variety of subspecialties. Neurologists often work closely with orthopedic surgeons while treating spine injuries and cardiologists when treating stroke patients.
While this may sound like a menial entry position, it’s actually the name given to doctors that specialize in internal medicine. Internal medicine covers a wide range of ailments and disorders.
General internists practice general internal medicine. They are experts at diagnosing and identifying a medical condition regardless of which body system is being affected. Oftentimes people will see internists if they have a chronic disease or several simultaneous conditions.