There are more than 100 types of rheumatic disease, including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout, lupus, back pain, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia and tendonitis.

If musculoskeletal pains are not severe or disabling and last just a few days, it makes sense to give the problem a reasonable chance to be resolved. But sometimes, pain in the joints, muscles or bones is severe or persists beyond a few days. At that point, you should see your physician.

Many types of rheumatic disease are not easily identified in the early stages. Rheumatologists are specially trained to do the detective work necessary to discover the cause of swelling and pain. Some musculoskeletal disorders respond best to treatment in the early stages of the disease.