Rheumatology is one of those branches of medicine where many people are familiar with the word but they don’t always have a good understanding of what it means and how it relates to their health. Even fewer understand exactly what a rheumatologist does and why you would need to see one.
So, what does a private rheumatologist do? They can diagnose and treat all conditions involving the muscles, joints, bones and blood vessels. Rheumatologists are doctors or physicians with additional specialist training in the diagnosis and management of inflammatory health conditions involving the musculoskeletal system. This includes rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, and other autoimmune diseases.
They can also diagnose and treat non-inflammatory conditions like osteoarthritis, soft tissue injuries like tendonitis, and connective tissue disorders such as fibromyalgia, hypermobility, carpal tunnel syndrome.
Dr Naveen Bhadauria, Consultant Rheumatologist, explains: “Although the vast majority of patients we see in the clinic have wear and tear (like osteoarthritis), we also see a considerable number of patients with inflammatory conditions like autoimmune diseases. Early diagnosis for inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, is incredibly important as this can result in rapid damage to joints if not treated promptly. What does a private rheumatologist do? We want to get any inflammation in the body under control and reduce pain so that your quality of life and independence is maintained, and you can continue to do what you love for as long as possible.”
What is Inflammation and Why is it Bad for Us?
Inflammation is a natural part of the body’s healing process. When we’re ill the immune system kicks in on a short-term basis to fight off infections and help us get better. However, sometimes this inflammation can become chronic. When this occurs, it can damage healthy cells and organs, leading to the development of health conditions, like diabetes, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis in particular can cause pain and swelling in the joints as a result of the body’s immune system overreacting and sending antibodies to the synovium (the soft tissue in and around the joints), causing irreversible joint damage.
When You Need to Consult a Private Rheumatologist
You should seek advice from a rheumatologist if you present with pain in one joint, pain in multiple joints, joint swelling, stiffness, redness and/or warmth in the joints. You may also experience some of the following symptoms:
- Low mood
- Gastrointestinal upset
- Frequent infections
- Weight changes
- Pain in the body not caused by anything obvious
- Trouble sleeping
Your GP may refer you to a rheumatologist if they suspect that you have a type of inflammatory condition because a rheumatologist can accurately diagnose you and either rule out or confirm the presence of such a condition.
Unfortunately, public healthcare waiting lists can be long. If your symptoms are greatly impacting your quality of life, you may prefer to see a private rheumatologist. The benefit of this is that you can not only choose your consultant and their clinic location, but that they also boast a significantly shorter waiting list. In fact, most private consultants do not have a waiting list and you can usually be seen within a week or so.
What Happens When You are Referred to a Rheumatologist?
Your first visit here at our clinic will involve giving your consultant a detailed understanding of your symptoms, medical history, and your family medical history, as some inflammatory conditions run in families. You will also undergo a physical examination and if you don’t already have them, blood tests and X-rays (if necessary) will be arranged to give your consultant a detailed picture of the affected joint(s). In some instances, more detailed testing like an ultrasound or MRI scans may be requested. Your consultant will want to understand if your pain and/or symptoms come and go, if/when they flare up, what triggers this, and more. It can be beneficial to make some notes before your appointment.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms we have mentioned above, it’s time to seek advice from your GP or a rheumatologist. Seek the help of a specialist as soon as possible to obtain a medical diagnosis and begin a bespoke treatment plan. To book with our consultant rheumatologist, please call 0207 126 7264 or use our contact form.