​Overview of the Rheumatology Program 

The Rheumatology Program at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Medical Subspecialties Institute is dedicated to diagnosing and treating patients with systemic autoimmune diseases, all forms of arthritis, and other conditions of the musculoskeletal system. 

Rheumatologists at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi are recognized nationally and internationally for their clinical expertise and research. In addition to evaluating patients with common rheumatic diseases, the rheumatology team is highly trained in treating patients with complicated autoimmune diseases. The Rheumatology Program is committed to its mission of serving as a local, national, and international leader in advancing the treatment of autoimmune diseases through excellence in clinical care, teaching, and research.​

What We Treat​

The Rheumatology Program is committed to treating patients above the age of 14 who have been diagnosed with a wide range of conditions, including: ​

  • Rheumatoid arthritis: A chronic, autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and pain in the joints. 
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus: An autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the connective tissues. Systemic lupus erythematosus is the most common type of lupus. 
  • Gout: A form of arthritis that causes inflammation after a substance called uric acid crystallizes in the joints. 
  • Osteoarthritis: A form of arthritis that develops when tissues in the joints, called cartilage, wear down. 
  • Psoriatic arthritis: An autoimmune disease that results in inflammation of the skin and the joints. This type of arthritis typically affects individuals who have psoriasis (an autoimmune condition of the skin). 
  • Ankylosing spondylitis: A form of arthritis that affects the joints in the spine.
  • Vasculitis: A group of diseases characterized by inflammation in the blood vessels (the arteries and veins). 

Autoinflammatory syndromes are also treated, and include:

  • Familial Mediterranean fever: An inherited genetic condition that causes repeated fever and inflammation in the abdomen, chest, and joints.  
  • Inflammatory myositis: A condition that causes inflammation of the muscles. 
  • Scleroderma: A group of diseases, also called systemic sclerosis, that cause an overproduction of a substance called collagen, which forms connective tissues. This condition results in the progressive hardening of the skin, blood vessels, and muscles. ​

Diagnosis with Rheumatology ​

On the initial visit to the Rheumatology Program clinic, and on subsequent follow-up appointments, each patient will have a full clinical assessment. Patients are expected to provide a full medical history as well as describe their symptoms to the physician. The physician will also conduct a physical examination, which is the diagnostic cornerstone of autoimmune diseases.

Diagnosis with Rheumatology 

In order to make an accurate diagnosis, the physician may require the following tests:

  • Routine blood test: A laboratory test that requires a blood sample to test for the presence or levels of certain substances in the blood. 
  • Special investigation test: Blood tests that aim to detect antibodies in the blood.
  • Biopsy: A sample of tissue that is collected during a procedure and analyzed for certain substances, such as antibodies. ​
  • X-ray: An imaging test that uses radiation to produce images of the bones.​

Treatment with Rheumatology 

The goal in treating autoimmune conditions is to achieve the lowest possible level of disease activity and, if possible, remission. The expert Rheumatology Program team works hard to improve outcomes, reduce pain, and enhance physical function and quality of life for patients. 

Most patients are treated with carefully managed medication therapy. Patients with an established diagnosis of an autoimmune condition are typically treated with one of three classes of medications: 

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs): NSAIDs are medications that reduce pain and inflammation by blocking the action of a protein called COX. They also reduce blood clotting. This class of medication has a short onset of action, meaning that the therapy starts working quickly.
  • Corticosteroids: Corticosteroids reduce inflammation by mimicking the actions of adrenal gland hormones. They also suppress immune system function. This class of medication has a short onset of action, meaning that the therapy starts working quickly.
  • Disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs): There are three categories of DMARDs, each of which works through a unique mechanism to reduce inflammation. Conventional synthetic DMARDs suppress immune system function overall while targeted synthetic DMARDs block specific functions in immune cells. Biologic synthetic DMARDs, which are made from animal or human proteins, block the action of proteins called cytokines. This class of medication can take several weeks or months to demonstrate an effect.

Rheumatology Program Caregivers 

The Rheumatology Program at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Medical Subspecialties Institute is a multidisciplinary collaboration of caregivers committed to providing superior, Patients First care. The core program team of highly trained rheumatologists and nurses coordinates with surgeons, radiologists, ophthalmologists, physical therapists, and podiatrists to diagnose and treat patients.

Caregivers involved in patient care for this program are:

  • Rheumatologists
  • Nurses​


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