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Rheumatology

Rapid assessment for joint and muscle pains

When your joints and muscles are frequently causing you pain for no apparent reason, it can be disheartening to have to wait months for an appointment before you can even begin to find relief. If you're looking to have treatment for your joint or muscle pain in Darlington, County Durham or North Yorkshire, BMI Woodlands Hospital is the best place to visit.

We prioritise seeing you for a rapid assessment without any unnecessary delay. Not only that, our highly experienced Rheumatologists can use their expertise to find the right course of action for you, tailoring treatments to your specific needs.

Rheumatology is a specialty concerned with managing diseases of the joints, muscles, and soft tissues (collectively known as the musculoskeletal system). Rheumatic conditions are typically chronic (long-term), meaning you may have been in pain for some time.

Symptoms of a rheumatic issue may include:

  • Joint pain (either in one joint or many joints)
  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Stiffness
  • General aches

We also see patients who may have certain conditions that result in joint pain, such as:

If you have been experiencing any of these symptoms, or you are concerned that you may have a rheumatic condition, our rheumatology consultants are available to help accurately diagnose you promptly, bringing you one step closer to relief from your symptoms.

Many diseases of the joints and muscles can be effectively managed without the need for surgical intervention, and your consultant will be looking to address your symptoms rapidly and effectively. Rheumatic conditions often involve inflammation, so various medications can be prescribed to reduce any swelling. Tablets are available from our on-site pharmacy, saving you further trips.

If you have previously seen your GP for treatment, you may have been advised to take over-the-counter painkillers to help with your symptoms. Stronger painkillers can be prescribed if appropriate.

Anti-inflammatory steroid injections are a common treatment for rheumatic conditions, helping to reduce swelling and addressing your pain at the same time. The steroid is injected directly into the source of your pain, either by your rheumatologist in the clinic, or under ultrasound guidance by a specialist radiologist. These injections can be repeated periodically if they prove effective in managing your symptoms.

If at the point of diagnosis it is determined that a joint needs an operation, you will be given the option of a referral to one of our expert orthopaedic surgeons, who work closely with the Rheumatology team to provide excellent care and specialised surgery. Your consultant will liaise with them in the run up to surgery and can help prepare you with a pre-operative assessment.

Surgery is rarely needed, but may be beneficial to those with severe rheumatoid arthritis, where a joint replacement can be considered, removing the damaged joint and replacing with an artificial implant. This is usually only considered when all other non-invasive measures have been tried and have been ineffective in easing your symptoms.

When you first come to Woodlands for your initial consultation, your consultant will ask for a detailed medical history, and will want to understand more about your symptoms. They will likely ask you:

  • What are your symptoms?
  • When did they start?
  • What is the nature of your pain? Is it constant or intermittent?
  • What treatments have you tried so far?
  • Does anything in particular make it worse or better?
  • How is your health in general? Do you have any other injuries?
  • Are you on any medication currently?

This will be followed by a physical examination to assess the symptoms you’ve mentioned, where your consultant will manipulate the affected joint or limb, looking at your range of movement and taking note of the precise points you experience pain or stiffness. This is often enough for your consultant to make a primary diagnosis.

Blood tests will often be arranged, and your consultant will most likely wish to see an x-ray of the affected joints or limbs. Some patients will already have had an x-ray prior to coming to Woodlands, but if not, a scan can be arranged on-site. Occasionally an ultrasound may be useful, especially if your consultant wishes to look at the soft tissues and structures around a particular joint. Woodlands has excellent facilities for getting quick access to scans, making sure your diagnosis arrives without an unnecessary wait.

Sometimes, if the issue is diagnosed within the initial consultation, treatment can begin right away in the form of tablets or steroid injections. Injections are normally administered directly into the joint, and this can be done then and there in the clinic. In fact, once diagnosed, many conditions are managed well in primary care by your GP, saving you further trips to the hospital.

If an ultrasound-guided injection is needed (to ensure the precision of the injection, especially when important blood vessels and nerves surround the site of your pain), this can be booked in for a later date. This is carried out alongside a specialist radiologist, allowing us to see the needle going into the exact spot required for maximum accuracy. Should you require surgery, your consultant can discuss with you all available options, liaising with orthopaedic surgeons on your behalf.

Choosing to have your Rheumatology treatment done at Woodlands comes with a host of benefits, such as:

  • Assessments ASAP – Certain joint and muscle conditions are best treated at the earliest possible stage. If you’ve been experiencing any of the associated symptoms, our consultants can see you for an assessment without delay, getting you an accurate diagnosis promptly and the necessary treatment before your symptoms progress any further.
  • Patient Satisfaction – 98.2% of patients in 2019 said they would happily recommend Woodlands Hospital to friends and family in an independent report, and we’re confident that you’ll agree. 98.3% also said that the quality of care here at Woodlands Hospital was either ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’. We aim to make your stay with us as comfortable as possible, and these results highlight our continued efforts to ensure this is achieved.
  • One-Stop Shop – Some minor procedures can be done on the same day as your initial consultation, making Woodlands a ‘one-stop shop’ for certain treatments and procedures, such as steroid injections.
  • Personalised care – We believe in a bespoke approach to treatment, tailoring each experience to our patients’ needs and whatever may be best for you. This is regularly reviewed, ensuring you get the necessary treatment at every stage of your patient journey.
  • A Multidisciplinary Approach – Our teams at Woodlands work in tandem with each other to provide you with the best possible care from start to finish. Working closely with Oral and Maxillofacial consultants, alongside a dedicated team of radiographers, anaesthetists, and nurses, you have support from medical professionals every step of the way during your treatment.
  • Convenient appointments – With appointments available between 10am and 8.30pm Monday-Saturday, you are sure to find an appointment slot that suits your needs and availability.

If any symptoms relating to joint pain are concerning you, why not book a consultation with one of our Rheumatology specialists today? Our consultants can outline all treatment options for you promptly, arranging any necessary diagnostic scans, treatment and surgery if required. For peace of mind and expert care, please contact Woodlands to book an appointment now.

Specialists Offering Rheumatology

Mr Louw Van Niekerk

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

MBChB, FRCS (Ed), FRCS (Orth)

BMI Woodlands Hospital

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Dr Matt James Bridges

Consultant Rheumatologist

MB;ChB 1994 MRCP 1998 CCST 2004

BMI Woodlands Hospital

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