There’s well over 200 reasons why you might need to see a rheumatologist. A rheumatologist specialises in diagnosing and treating diseases of the joints, muscles and bones. Although most people believe that ‘arthritis’ is a specific condition, it is a term to describe inflammation of the joints and therefore there are many different rheumatic disorders that could require diagnosis and management from a rheumatologist.
You may need to see a rheumatologist if you’re suffering from autoimmune disorders, vasculitis, spinal conditions such as Ankylosing spondylitis, fibromyalgia or soft tissue conditions. However, the two most common rheumatology conditions are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is caused by the breakdown of cartilage in the joints of the hands, hips, knees, feet, spine and over 8.75 million people in the UK have sought treatment for osteoarthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a form of inflammatory arthritis and it presents as pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints, limiting mobility and causing great discomfort to the sufferer. Women are more than three times more likely to suffer from rheumatoid arthritis than men and it is estimated to affect over one per cent of the female adult population in the UK.
Rheumatology and sports medicine
Sport and the injuries that a rheumatologist treats are intrinsically linked and, in clinic, the rheumatologist will see many musculoskeletal injuries as a result of sports. The aim of treatment is to return you to playing sport at the level you previously enjoyed.
Your treatment typically demands a team approach incorporating other medical and non-medical personnel, alongside your rheumatologist specialist, to provide a holistic programme of rehabilitation. The team might include physiotherapists, nutritionists, osteopaths, psychologists and physiologists.
Professor Cathy Speed combines the specialties of Rheumatology and Sports & Exercise Medicine at her practice based in Cambridge to provide care for those suffering from complex and often life-limiting musculoskeletal injuries. Her particular field of expertise is diagnosing and managing musculoskeletal injuries in young athletes at every level of performance; she is the Senior Physician for the English Institute of Sport, Chief Medical Officer to GB Badminton and to Middlesex County Cricket Club and the academy at the Lords Ground, London.
To book a consultation with Professor Speed at her Cambridge clinic, call 01223 200 595. She also offers assessments and treatment at two locations in London.