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Investigation, diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions

Rheumatology is the area of medicine involved with the investigation, diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions. A doctor who specialises in this field is a Consultant Rheumatologist.

Your musculoskeletal system consists of joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons and bones. A problem in any part of it can have a significant impact on your health, vitality and quality of life. The most common symptom is pain in a joint or muscle.

Rheumatologic problems are often chronic (long-term), and many people who visit our Consultant Rheumatologists will have been in pain for a long time. They will usually have tried a number of different treatments, but their symptoms continue to be a problem.

Rheumatologic conditions can cause a range of symptoms. Common reasons people visit us for help include:

  • Neck or back pain
  • Sciatica – back pain that radiates down a leg or arm
  • Shoulder pain – caused by, for example, rotator cuff sprains or tears
  • Joint pain, swelling, heat or redness – this may be in only one joint or in many joints.
  • Fatigue
  • Rash – may be caused by, for example, psoriasis or lupus
  • Eye complaints - like uveitis or dry eyes
  • Weakness – caused by inflammatory conditions affecting the muscles
  • Diarrhoea – caused by associated inflammatory bowel conditions

Conditions that may cause these symptoms include:

  • Arthritis – including rheumatoid, psoriatic, colitic, gout and pseudogout, osteoarthritis
  • Ankylosing spondylitis and related inflammatory spinal conditions
  • Autoimmune diseases and connective tissue diseases - such as Lupus and Scleroderma
  • Polymyalgia Rheumatica - stiffness and inflammation in muscles, symptoms are often worse first thing in the morning after waking
  • Soft tissue problems - such as Tennis Elbow, Golfer’s Elbow and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Osteoporosis
  • Fibromyalgia – characterised by pain all over the body and generalised sensitivity

If you have one or more of these symptoms or conditions, it is a sensible course of action to see a Rheumatologist for expert help.

The Consultant Rheumatologists at Bishops Wood Hospital provide investigation of a range of rheumatologic condition and symptoms for adults 18+. They would be delighted to meet with you to discuss your symptoms and to ensure you receive the most appropriate support for your specific condition without delay.

Many conditions that affect the joints and muscles can often be managed well without the need for any surgery.

If your rheumatologic condition involves inflammation, various medicines are available to help reduce swelling.

Where you have pain that is not being adequately controlled, your consultant may prescribe you stronger painkillers if appropriate.

Steroid injections are often extremely good at relieving symptoms for a number of rheumatologic conditions. They have dual benefits, providing both pain-relief and anti-inflammatory properties. If steroid injections help to manage your symptoms, they can be repeated periodically. Depending on where your pain is, this injection might be given by your Rheumatologist or by a Radiologist using ultrasound or CT guidance to ensure precision.

Surgery will not often be needed, but can be helpful in some cases when symptoms are particularly severe. If damage to the joint is extensive (such as that caused by advanced osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, for example, joint replacement surgery may be an option. This surgery replaces the damaged joint with a new artificial one.

If surgery is a suitable treatment option, you will be referred to one of the experienced Orthopaedic Surgeons at the hospital for help.

Whatever rheumatologic symptoms you have, whether fairly mild or more severe, the Rheumatology team at Bishops Wood Hospital will make sure you receive the most appropriate treatment, tailored to your specific requirements, as soon as possible.

When you visit us for your first Rheumatology consultation, your consultant will take a medical history and ask you to talk about your symptoms. They may ask you questions like:

  • What symptoms do you have?
  • When did these symptoms start?
  • Are you in pain? If so, can you describe it?
  • Have you already received any type of treatment?
  • Does anything make your symptoms worse or better?

They will carry out a physical examination to assess the current range of movement in any affected joint(s) and to determine where exactly you are feeling any pain or stiffness. 

A diagnosis can sometimes be made in this first consultation. In these cases, treatment will often be able to start right away, with either a prescription or a steroid injection.

In other cases, further investigation may be required. Blood tests can be a particularly helpful diagnostic tool for many rheumatologic issues, and you may also be referred for X-ray, ultrasound or an MRI scan, all of which available on-site and easy to arrange.

Once the results of any investigations are back, you will meet with your consultant again to discuss what they show and to explore possible treatment options.

If your symptoms are more severe and surgery will be required, this will be fully discussed with you. In these situations, your consultant will work closely with the most appropriate Orthopaedic Surgeons on your behalf to facilitate this.

Rheumatologic conditions can often flare-up for no obvious reason, or you may develop new symptoms. Regular follow-up with your consultant ensures easily adjustment of treatment when needed to ensure you continue to see the best possible relief of symptoms.

Most people who visit our Rheumatologists are fairly local to Northwood, although it is very easy to travel to us from further afield should you wish.

You can self-refer. People are often referred by their GP, a consultant in another speciality like orthopaedics or endocrinology, or by their private medical insurance provider.

We treat private medical insurance and self-pay patients.

When you visit a Consultant Rheumatologist at Bishops Wood Hospital, you will benefit from:

  • Expert assessment sooner – Many joint and muscle conditions are better treated at the earliest possible stage. If you have any symptoms that are worrying you, it is sensible to book an appointment with a consultant, and this can be done easily and quickly. Earlier assessment means you will be able to benefit from tailored treatment sooner.
  • Consultant-guided care – Rheumatology requires a holistic approach, with treatment carefully calibrated to your specific requirements and what will be best for you. Your consultant will oversee every aspect of your care and will work closely with you to help manage your symptoms as well as possible.
  • A multidisciplinary approach – Our Consultant Rheumatologists work closely with specialists in other areas, such as Orthopaedic and Neurology consultants. They are supported by a dedicated team of Radiographers, Anaesthetists, Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists and Nurses, and many other healthcare professionals. With quick and easy access to any member of this multidisciplinary team, you will always see the most appropriate person for your specific needs.
  • Recommended by patients – In an independent survey, 94.1% of our patients said they were likely or extremely likely to recommend us to their friends and family.
  • Convenient appointments – Rheumatology appointments are easy to book online or by telephone. We can also offer remote consultations by telephone or video call if required.

If you have any concerns about symptoms relating to joint or muscle pain, why not book a consultation with one of our Rheumatology specialists to get clarity about the best way forward? We look forward to welcoming you to Bishops Wood Hospital soon.

Specialists offering Rheumatology

Dr Krishnan Baburaj

Consultant Rheumatologist


Bishops Wood Hospital 1 more The Clementine Churchill Hospital

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