Rheumatology

Our rheumatology clinics treat patients with a wide range of muscle, joint and medical bone problems.

You may be offered an appointment with one of our rheumatology specialists directly from your GP referral, or you may be transferred to us after being seen by one of our other services – therapies, pain or orthopaedic surgery.

What happens at the clinic?

The rheumatologist will assess you and may arrange for you to have investigations to help them with their diagnosis. These include blood tests, x-rays, MRI scans, CT scans, ultrasound scans, nuclear medicine scans, bone density scans (DEXA) and joint aspiration tests.

You will have some of these at your first appointment, so you may be at the hospital for several hours. If you need any other tests, we will arrange these for you at a later date.

If you have a long-term (chronic) condition such as rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis, your care will be managed by our rheumatology team, which includes rheumatology clinical nurse specialists and physiotherapists as well as rheumatologists.

What we treat

Common problems that we treat include:

  • all types of arthritis including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and anklyosing spondylitis
  • autoimmune connective tissue disorders including systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjogren’s syndrome and systemic sclerosis
  • vasculitis, including Churg Strauss, Wegener’s granulomatosis and giant cell arteritis
  • inflammatory muscle diseases including dermatomyositis and polymyositis
  • non-inflammatory conditions including fibromyalgia, cervical spondylitis, degenerative osteoarthritis
  • non-inflammatory connective tissue diseases including hypermobility syndromes
  • metabolic bone diseases including osteoporosis and Paget’s disease.

Our Self-help section gives you more information about the range of problems we care for and what you can do to manage your condition.

Treatments we offer

We may offer you a range of treatments to manage your problem, including:

  • analgesics (painkillers) and anti-inflammatory tablets to ease pain
  • steroid injections to reduce inflammation that causes joint pain in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout
  • disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDS) such as methotrexate, sulfasalazine, hydroxycloroquine and leflunomide tablets for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. You have regular blood tests with these drugs
  • advanced biologic therapies and biosimilars. You have these by injection (using a special device) or by infusion on the infusion unit. Your have regular blood tests and clinical assessments with these treatments
  • tablets to treat and prevent flare-ups of gout (crystal arthropathy)
  • tablets, injections or infusions to treat osteoporosis.

We also advise you about things you can do yourself, such as recognising and managing flare-ups of certain conditions.

Where can I have my treatment?

We see patients at our rheumatology clinics at Queen Mary’s Hospital, Sidcup and Erith and District Hospital. If you need drug infusions, you will have these at the infusion unit at Princess Royal University Hospital, Farnborough. If you are prescribed tablets or injectable drugs, you will take or give these yourself at home.

If you would like your consultation at another NHS hospital, please tell our booking team when they contact you.

What happens next?

If you have a chronic (long-standing) condition, you will have continuing care with our rheumatology team. Your rheumatologist may also seek an opinion or treatment from other specialists working in one of our other services.