After a detailed clinical examination, this doctor may request additional examinations: blood test, medical imaging (ultrasound, radiography, MRI, CT scan ...), electromyogram, etc. Sometimes arthroscopy (visualization of the inside of a joint using a thin probe equipped with a mini-camera) may be necessary.
After having made a precise diagnosis, he can propose different types of treatments according to the disease to be treated. The rheumatologist can of course prescribe medication. It can also prescribe functional rehabilitation sessions, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, local physical care (sludge, heat, radiation ...), the wearing of a lumbar belt, a neck brace, a corset, a splint to relieve a joint, etc. They can also perform intra-articular injections, near the nerve roots of drugs (infiltrations).
If the medical treatment can not succeed, does not provide the solution, the rheumatologist can send the patient to another specialist. Thus, for example, when one suffers too much from a hip because of major osteoarthritis, the only solution may be surgery performed by an orthopedic surgeon.
Rheumatologists are grouped together in different learned societies. The main one is the French Society of Rheumatology.
Sources and notes: Atlas of medical demography in France. Situation on 1st January 2009. National Council of the Order of Doctors.