How to Find a Doctor to Diagnose and Treat Lupus

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Finding a doctor to diagnose and treat lupus can be difficult.  

The first step is of course getting a proper diagnosis. Unfortunately, there is not a definitive test for lupus test, (like there is for diabetes, for instance) and the average lupus diagnosis takes 4+ years and 3+ doctors.  

Regardless, any medical doctor can diagnose lupus but the most qualified are Rheumatologists for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and Dermatologists for discoid or skin lupus.  

If you think you may have lupus and you answer “yes” to several questions on the “Test Yourself for Lupus” questionnaire, bring your completed questionnaire with you to your next doctor visit to discuss the possibility of having lupus.  It is possible that your general practitioner will be able to diagnose and treat lupus, although more often, your doctor will refer you to a rheumatologist or dermatologist for diagnosis and/or treatment.

Dermatologists specialize in treating conditions that affect the skin, hair and nails.  Dermatologists are medical doctors who have medical degrees and studied an additional four years in their field to become specialists. 

Rheumatologists subspecialize in their field by completing a two or three year fellowship after specializing in either internal medicine or pediatrics.  Rheumatologists deal mainly with clinical problems involving joints, soft tissues, autoimmune diseases, vasculitis, and heritable connective tissue disorders.

There are several options to find a rheumatologist and/or dermatologist to diagnose and treat lupus.  

LSI sponsored Support Groups provide an excellent opportunity to find out about resources specific to your community.  Support groups meet regularly throughout Illinois – an entire list of support groups and meeting dates can be accessed here.

You can find a Rheumatologist in your area through the American College of Rheumaology (ACR) website (click here).  The website allows you to find ACR members by zip code or city.  If you have insurance, it’s best to call your insurance provider to determine if the rheumatologist you plan to visit is accepted on your insurance.

You can find a Dermatologist through the American Academy of Dermatology (click here).

You can also call the Lupus Society of Illinois for further assistance in finding a Rheumatologist and/or Dermatologist to diagnose and treat your lupus.

Should I get a second opinion?
Since there is no single test for lupus, diagnosis is ultimately symptom diagnosed.  If you are not satisfied with your doctor’s diagnosis, you can always seek a second opinion.  For a second opinion, we suggest you see either a Rheumatologist or a Dermatologist.  If you need more assistance finding a physician for a second opinion, please contact us at info@lupusil.org or call 312-542-0002. 

Uninsured?  We can help
If you are uninsured, the challenges of obtaining a proper diagnosis and treatment is challenging but possible.  The State of Illinois provides free clinics throughout the state to benefit constituents although these clinics are not staffed by lupus specialists.  For more information and assistance, please contact us at info@lupusil.org or call at 312-542-0004. 

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