Rheumatology Specialist

Kaplan MacLean Rheumatology

Rheumatologists located in Encinitas, CA

If you’re experiencing muscle or joint pain that isn’t going away, you could have an underlying rheumatic disease. Natalie MacLean, MD, is a skilled physician at Kaplan MacLean Rheumatology in Encinitas, California, with advanced training in rheumatology who provides expert care to managing conditions associated with your autoimmune system that affect your muscles, bones, or joints. For expert help, call Kaplan MacLean Rheumatology or schedule an appointment online today.

Rheumatology Q & A

What is rheumatology?

Rheumatology is a specialized medical field focusing on diagnosing and treating conditions affecting your musculoskeletal and autoimmune system. Conditions affecting your autoimmune system are known as rheumatic diseases.

These types of issues can lead to stiffness, deformity, swelling, and pain in your joints, bones, and muscles. Rheumatic diseases usually develop because of abnormal responses by your immune system to a perceived threat.

Common rheumatic diseases include:

  • Gout
  • Lupus
  • Myositis
  • Vasculitis
  • Scleroderma
  • Polymyalgia rheumatica
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Psoriatic arthritis, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis

Approximately 1 in 5 people will develop some form of arthritis during their lifetime, and two-thirds of these cases occur before 65 years of age.

Why should I see a rheumatologist?

It’s normal to experience joint or muscle pain from time to time, but when it becomes chronic it may be a sign of an underlying autoimmune condition.

Joint symptoms associated with rheumatic diseases can vary, but in general, may include:

  • Pain or tenderness
  • Stiffness, especially after inactivity or upon waking
  • Swelling, warmth, or redness in the area
  • Difficulty using the joint

Additional signs associated with rheumatic diseases include eye infections or inflammation, sores and rashes, fatigue, and difficulty taking deep breaths. You might also experience muscle pain.

Several factors increase your risk of developing rheumatic diseases, especially a combination of environmental factors and genes. An experienced rheumatologist can help you manage your condition and reduce your risk of long-term complications.

What can I expect during a rheumatology appointment?

Dr. MacLean relies on her specialized training to diagnose and treat over 100 different types of rheumatic diseases. During your appointment, she performs a comprehensive physical exam to look for signs of inflammation and reviews your complete personal medical history. Dr. MacLean also discusses your family history, which can provide important information when diagnosing rheumatic diseases.

Based on your exam and symptoms, Dr. MacLean might also recommend a variety of lab tests, including digital imaging like CT or MRI scans, X-rays, or ultrasound, and blood work to check antibody production and look for excess inflammation in your system.

Depending on your diagnosis, Dr. MacLean develops a personalized treatment plan customized to your unique condition and overall health. Managing rheumatic diseases often include:

  • Medication
  • Physical therapy
  • Joint or tendon injections
  • Diet counseling

Dr. MacLean also offers methods to help you regain your physical function, reduce your risk of long-term damage, and improve your overall quality of life.

Call Kaplan MacLean Rheumatology or schedule an appointment online today to learn more.