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Expert assessment for joint and muscle pains

Rheumatology is a specialist 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 comprises joints, muscles, ligament and bones. Many parts of your body are involved in this system so that a small problem can have a significant downstream effect on your health, vitality and quality of life.

Rheumatic problems tend to be long-term (chronic), and many people who visit our Consultant Rheumatologists will often have been in pain for a long time and may have been seen previously by specialists in a number of other areas of medicine.

Common reasons people visit us for help are:

  • Neck or back pain
  • Sciatica – pain in leg or arm
  • Shoulder pain – caused by, for example, frozen shoulder
  • Joint pain – either in one joint or many joints
  • Extreme tiredness/fatigue

Conditions that can cause these symptoms include:

  • Arthritis – rheumatoid, psoriatic, gout and pseudogout
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Autoimmune diseases and connective tissue diseases - such as Lupus and Scleroderma
  • Polymyalgia Rheumatica - stiffness and inflammation in muscles, often worse when waking up
  • Soft tissue problems - such as Tennis Elbow or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Osteoporosis
  • Fibromyalgia - pain all over the body and extreme sensitivity

If you have one or more of these symptoms or conditions, it may be sensible to see a rheumatologist.

The Consultant Rheumatologists at The Alexandra Hospital in Manchester provide comprehensive investigation of all rheumatic condition and symptoms and would be delighted to help you access the most appropriate support for your specific needs, sooner.

Many diseases affecting the joints and muscles can often be well managed without the need for surgery.

Where a rheumatic condition involves inflammation, various medicines are available to help reduce swelling.

If your pain is not being adequately controlled by over-the-counter painkillers, your consultant can prescribe stronger painkillers where appropriate.

Steroid injections are a common treatment for rheumatic conditions, providing both anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving benefits. If they prove effective at managing your symptoms they can be repeated periodically. Depending on the source of your pain, the injection may be given by your rheumatologist or under ultrasound guidance by a radiologist.

If non-invasive measures are not able to relieve your symptoms adequately, surgery may be an option. Surgery is not often needed but can be helpful for those with particularly severe rheumatoid arthritis.

In cases where damage to the joint is extensive, joint replacement surgery may be advised to replace the damaged joint with an artificial implant. If this would be the most suitable treatment for you, your consultant will refer you to one of the orthopaedic surgeons at the hospital.

Whatever symptoms or condition you are struggling with, whether relatively mild or more advanced, the Rheumatology team at The Alexandra Hospital will make sure you receive the most effective treatment for your specific requirements at every stage.

When you come to The Alexandra Hospital for your initial consultation, your consultant will take a medical history and ask you to describe your symptoms. They may ask you questions like:

  • What are your symptoms?
  • When did they start?
  • Can you describe your pain?
  • What (if any) treatments have you tried so far?
  • Does anything make your symptoms worse or better?
  • Are you currently taking any medication?

They will carry out a physical examination, which may involve moving the affected joint or limb to determine your current range of movement and to see the precise points you feel any pain or stiffness. 

Blood tests can be helpful when investigating many rheumatic issues, and you may also be referred for an X-ray, ultrasound or MRI scan, all of which are quickly and easily arranged for you on-site.

Your symptoms, clinical history, physical examination and the results of any tests will all be used by your consultant to make a diagnosis and to formulate a treatment plan specifically for you. This will always be discussed with you fully so that you can make an informed choice about treatment

If the issue is able to be diagnosed within your first consultation, treatment can often begin right away with either medication or steroid injections.

Should surgery be required, your consultant will discuss all available options and liaise with orthopaedic surgeons on your behalf to ensure you receive the most appropriate help as soon as possible.

Whatever treatment is needed, your consultant will closely monitor the results at regular intervals. If symptoms flare-up or new symptoms appear, treatment can be quickly and easily adjusted.

Most people who visit our rheumatologists are local to Manchester, although excellent road links make it easy to travel to us from further afield should you wish.

People are referred by their GP, a consultant in another speciality like orthopaedics, endocrinology or cardiology, from occupational health or their private medical insurance provider.

We treat private medical insurance and self-pay patients, and you can self-refer to avoid delay.

When you visit a Consultant Rheumatologist at The Alexandra Hospital you will benefit from:

  • Expert assessment ASAP – Many joint and muscle conditions are best treated at the earliest possible stage. If you have any symptoms that are causing you concern, our consultants can see you for an assessment without delay. An earlier diagnosis means you will be able to start any treatment sooner.
  • Personalised care – Rheumatology requires a holistic approach, tailoring treatment to your specific needs and what will be best for you. Your consultant will oversee every aspect of your care and if you have any questions or concerns at any time, it is very easily to book a follow-up appointment with them.
  • A multidisciplinary approach– With over 600 consultants working at the hospital, and many healthcare professionals Our Rheumatology team work closely with specialists in other areas, such as orthopaedic and neurology consultants, alongside a dedicated team of radiographers, anaesthetists, and nurses. You will always be supported by the most appropriate medical professional throughout your treatment.
  • Recommended by patients! – In an independent survey, 97.3% of our patients said they were likely or extremely likely to recommend us to their friends and family.
  • Convenient appointments – Rheumatology appointments are available throughout the week and are easy to book online or by telephone. We can also offer remote consultations by telephone or video call if required.

If you are worried or concerned about any 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, sooner?

We very much look forward to welcoming you to The Alexandra Hospital.

Specialists offering Rheumatology

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Dr Abbas Ismail

Consultant Rheumatologist


The Alexandra Hospital

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Prof Hector Chinoy

Consultant Rheumatologist / Professor of Rheumatology and Neuromuscular Disease


The Alexandra Hospital

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Dr Syed Hussain

Consultant Rheumatologist and General Physician

MBBS (London), MD, FRCP

The Alexandra Hospital 4 more Chelsfield Park Hospital The London Independent Hospital The Princess Margaret Hospital The Sloane Hospital

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