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Self Help

Rheumatological Conditions

Rheumatological Conditions

Self Help Guides | Rheumatological Conditions


In general terms rheumatological conditions refer to medical conditions where inflammation is caused by normal physiological processes being disturbed. This is often as a result of the body’s immune system not identifying the body normally. It is however an umbrella term that covers a range of conditions.

Common rheumatological conditions include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Gout
  • Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Hypermobility

Symptoms of rheumatological conditions can include:

  • Joint pain
  • Skin irritation
  • Swelling / redness
  • Joint stiffness
  • Fatigue

Diagnosing rheumatological conditions

  • The history and symptoms of the condition is one of the main ways of diagnosing rheumatological conditions
  • Physical examination
  • Blood tests can indicate some conditions, but not all
  • In some cases scans, like MRI imaging, can be useful in guiding diagnosis
  • In some specific cases it can be a diagnosis of exclusion, where other conditions are ruled out first

If you are concerned that you have a rheumatological condition it is worth discussing this with your GP or physiotherapist who will be able to help guide you further

Managing inflammatory conditions

Normally managing inflammatory conditions will require a mixed approach of medication, exercise and lifestyle modification. This will likely mean that you will be under the care of several health professionals.

Medication can be used to manage your symptoms of pain and in some cases can be used to slow the progression of an inflammatory condition. These will either be managed by your GP or by a rheumatology department.

Exercise is important to keep joints supple and healthy and to keep muscles strong. It may seem counter intuitive to move a stiff and painful joint but often symptoms improve with gentle exercise. However it is also important that this is done in a safe a structured way to prevent your symptoms worsening. A physiotherapist can advise you on how to best manage your exercise levels and possibly suggest specific exercise depending on your symptoms.

Lifestyle can play a big part in the symptoms you experience with rheumatological conditions. It is important to maintain a healthy diet and weight as unhealthy foods and being overweight can contribute to inflammation. Smoking is generally unhealthy, however may cause more inflammation in those with inflammatory conditions. Regular exercise is also important in maintaining weight and joint, bone and cardio-pulmonary (heart and lung) health.


Download “NICE Rheumatoid Arthritis Patient Decision Aid”

Rheumatological Conditions

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