Autoimmune disorders are diseases in which the body's immune system attacks its own healthy cells by mistake. Doctors who treat autoimmune disorders are called rheumatologists. Although rheumatology as a field traditionally focuses on diseases of the joints and connective tissues, it uses breakthroughs in immunology to cure them, linking the causes of most of these diseases to the autoimmune system. Finding a rheumatologist is an easy process.
Ask your family doctor or internist for a referral to a rheumatologist. When talking to your doctor about possible referrals, ask for a few options to consider--and ask him to suggest specialists to whom he would refer his own friends or family members.
Contact the nearest teaching hospital or medical school to find a rheumatologist. A complete list of all of the teaching hospitals in the United States is available on the Association of American Medical Colleges' website (see Resources section).
Search for a local rheumatologist by contacting your health insurance provider and obtaining a list of in-network providers who will accept your health insurance. Most health insurance companies offer searchable databases on their websites, or provide assistance over the telephone to help you search for an in-network specialist. Contact information for your health insurance provider is on your health insurance card.
Use resources developed by professional organizations that represent rheumatologists and the treatment of autoimmune diseases. The American College of Rheumatology offers a tool to find a rheumatologist on its website. The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association also provides a list of resources--sorted by autoimmune disease--for additional information about the disorder, for finding treatment facilities and providers, and for seeking support from other patients.