The scope of rheumatology
Rheumatology specialists at The Physicians’ Clinic provide expert diagnosis for patients with conditions that affect the joints, soft tissues and muscles. These include:
- Osteoarthritis: a disease caused by injury to the joint, due to a sports injury, for example, or due to the normal wear and tear that comes with ageing. Early diagnosis of osteoarthritis can enable us to provide effective pain management and rehabilitation; we then identify patients who require surgical interventions such as hip replacements or spinal surgery and liaise closely with our orthopaedic colleagues in this respect.
- Rheumatism of the soft tissues: this can stem from repetitive strain injury, or accidental or sports injury, leading to common disorders such as rotator cuff tendonitis, tennis elbow and inflammation of the Achilles tendon. Other soft tissue disorders include carpal tunnel syndrome, tenosynovitis and bursitis.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA): this is an inflammatory arthritis, caused by an abnormal immune reaction in which the tissues of the joint are attacked and damaged, causing swelling and pain. A prompt diagnosis is essential, as the disease modifying treatments now available, including biological therapies, can prevent joint damage in the longer term. We can offer accurate diagnosis, using physical examination and blood tests, imaging to assess joint damage, and ongoing support and treatment on an outpatient basis.
- Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and ankylosing spondylitis (AS): two other forms of inflammatory arthritis that can also be treated effectively with disease modifying agents. PsA patients may need co-management with consultants within our dermatology specialty, AS patients require regular monitoring with use of appropriate medical interventions.
- Other forms of inflammatory arthritis: we can also diagnose and manage reactive arthritis, due to a response to infection, juvenile arthritis in those under 16 and arthritis that can develop in patients with severe Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
- Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE): this is one of the major inflammatory connective tissue disorders that we see. Again this is caused by an inappropriate immune response, but the tissues targeted by the body’s own immune system include soft tissues, such as the skin, nerves and muscles. Major organ systems can also be affected and effective control is required to prevent patients losing their quality of life.
- Vasculitis: an autoimmune disease in which the target for the immune response is the major blood vessels of the body.
- Other connective tissue disorders: these include the rarer diseases such as Sjögren’s syndrome, polymyalgia rheumatica, dermatomyositis and polymyositis.