Our rheumatology service at Circle Reading Hospital provides expertise in the diagnosis and management of undiagnosed joint pain, swelling and other medical symptoms.
We are also able to provide rapid access for second opinions, and highly specialist management plans in cases where existing rheumatologic disease is present.
Circle Health has state-of-the-art, modern hospitals providing the relaxing space needed for medical consultations, diagnostic tests and treatment.
Our rheumatology service draws on the experience of leading consultant rheumatologists who are able to deliver the breadth of medical management needed within this specialty.
Ensuring you have control
Our holistic approach to providing rheumatology services mean that your problems will be clearly listened to.
This approach helps to ensure that you have a unique understanding of your condition, management options and ultimately, full control over your individual treatment plan.
Rheumatology involves the diagnosis and treatment of problems affecting the bones, joints and muscles (commonly referred to as the musculoskeletal system).
Although rheumatologists deal with problems affecting this system, the underlying cause of many of these conditions may be related to an immune system disorder (sometimes termed autoimmune conditions).
These autoimmune conditions may also affect other bodily systems such as the skin, gastro-intestinal, cardiovascular and neural systems. Therefore, rheumatologists are experts at recognising symptoms associated with these disorders and differentiating these conditions from primary musculoskeletal system disorders.
Once diagnosed, expert rheumatologists will often refer the management of primary musculoskeletal complaints on to an orthopaedic surgeon or physiotherapist if they will be able to provide the best treatment. Autoimmune conditions are often treated directly by the rheumatology specialist themselves.
Some conditions that rheumatologists may manage include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Osteoarthritis (in aggressive cases)
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Sjogren’s syndrome
As the symptoms associated with auto-immune conditions are often the result of the body inflaming certain tissues, rheumatology treatment uses a combination of highly-specialised medicines to reduce these levels of inflammation.
The first line of medicines used to treat most auto-immune disorders include disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs).
These medicines reduce the activity of T cells and B cells, which are involved in the body’s immune system response and, as a result, can reduce inflammation.
A group of medicines known as biologic medicines, which more specifically target some cells and activities involved in the inflammatory process, can also be used.
If DMARDs and biologic medications have not had the desired effects, medications which can directly modify the genes underlying the autoimmune process may be considered.
However, as these more powerful medications have potentially more serious side effects, they are only used when needed.
At your initial consultation, your rheumatology consultant will compose a thorough history of your condition.
The diagnosis of certain rheumatology conditions may be based on factors such as your family medical history as well as other previous symptoms. This comprehensive history will enable our clinicians to understand the extent of any condition while considering the possible underlying diagnoses. Further diagnostics may be considered depending on your history and medical history.
Depending on the exact issue, and whether any further diagnostic tests are required, your rheumatologist will discuss appropriate treatment options at your follow-up appointment.
State-of-the-art diagnostics available for you
Our rheumatologists work closely with our radiology consultants to establish the most accurate diagnoses.
Diagnostic tests that may be considered by your expert rheumatology consultant include a variety of imaging modalities such as:
- X-rays: can detect familiar signs known as erosions, which are associated with long-term inflammation to joints. They can also demonstrate changes associated with osteoarthritis.
- MRI scans and ultrasound scans: can be used when assessing other signs of short-term inflammation, as well as more detailed observation of anatomical problems.
Due to the highly complex involvement of the body systems involved in autoimmune disease, your rheumatology consultant may request a number of different forms of blood tests at your initial assessment.
On analysing the initial results of blood screens, your rheumatologist may commonly request more targeted tests. Blood tests which may be requested include:
- Full blood count
- ESR & CRP
- Liver function tests
- Bone profile
- Kidney function tests
- Autoantibody screens
- Rheumatoid factor
- Anti-CCP test
The right treatment for you, always
Circle’s rheumatology unit offers a variety of medical treatments, including:
- specialist medication to reduce inflammation to the affected joints, organs or soft tissue.
- specialist anti-inflammatory injections, which can be administered by our rheumatology consultants. (Alternatively, our rheumatology team are able to organise image-guided injections with the latest imaging techniques, under the administration of our specialised radiology consultants.)
Key to your receiving the correct treatment is the close working relationship our rheumatology consultants maintain with our orthopaedic surgeons. In the event that your condition is found to warrant surgical intervention, we are able to provide a seamless transition of care and rapid access to leading specialists and interventions.
For patients in need of specialist advice regarding strengthening and flexibility exercises to help manage their condition most effectively, we are able to provide physiotherapy.
Fortunately, medical understanding of systemic, autoimmune conditions has greatly increased in recent decades. We have significant depth in research, which helps by providing clear guidance on the most accurate management plans regarding diagnosis, treatment and intervention.
In the cases of rheumatologic conditions, these management pathways are built on the need to reduce the levels of inflammation as quickly as possible.
Fast appointments, flexible times
Due to these underlying processes, early and accurate diagnosis and treatment is often essential to prevent damage to joints and other tissues.
At Circle Health, we understand the need for this best practice and make sure we provide appointments with flexible times, as well as immediate access to diagnostics and treatment as needed, to give our patients the very best outcomes.
Additional specialist support available when required
Where additional specialist guidance on autoimmune conditions is required, our rheumatologists are able to refer on directly to experienced endocrinologists . Our vascular department can provide guidance when investigating possible vascular causes of symptoms and can provide rapid access to specialist diagnostic procedures and surgical interventions as needed.
Should joints be affected by degenerative or inflammatory arthritis to the extent that surgery is required, Circle Health’s orthopaedic department are able to provide the specialist opinion needed.
When surgery is not considered an effective option, our rheumatologists work closely with our consultants in pain management to consider specialist pain medications or injection therapy. All of our injections are administered as needed under guidance from the latest imaging technology, including ultrasound or specialist X-rays.
Not only is our rheumatology clinical care second to none, you will receive your expert treatment in a modern, comfortable and clean facility.
To arrange your consultation with an experienced rheumatology expert, contact our friendly team today who will be delighted to help.