Rheumatology

At The Royal Free Hospital PPU, consultant rheumatologists offer combined clinics with other specialists, such as with consultant paediatricians in our specialist adolescent rheumatology clinic.

What is rheumatology?

Rheumatology is a medical specialty that deals with rheumatic diseases and musculoskeletal conditions. These generally involve problems with the immune system – the body’s internal defense mechanism – or gradual deterioration of the musculoskeletal system.

The musculoskeletal system includes:

  • Joints
  • Muscles
  • Tendons
  • Ligaments
  • Cartilage
  • Bones

Rheumatologists are doctors who specialise in the investigation, diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic diseases and musculoskeletal conditions. Some of the major rheumatic diseases including connective tissue diseases may affect other organs including heart, lungs, kidneys and blood vessels. Our rheumatologists have specialist interest in connective tissue diseases and work closely with other specialist colleagues to manage these complex conditions.

Common rheumatology conditions

Rheumatic diseases, sometimes known simply as ‘rheumatism’, can affect people at any age. Here at The Royal Free Hospital Private Patients Unit (PPU), we offer expert care for musculoskeletal conditions and rheumatic diseases.

What we offer

Rheumatic diseases and musculoskeletal conditions can affect children as well as adults. At The Royal Free Hospital PPU, consultant rheumatologists offer combined clinics with other specialists, such as with consultant paediatricians in our specialist adolescent rheumatology clinic.
Common rheumatology conditions that affect adolescents include juvenile idiopathic arthritis, connective tissue diseases and joint hypermobility.

Group 20

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis

Inflammatory arthritis that occurs before the sixteenth birthday is known as juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Around 12,000 children in the UK are affected. There are different types of juvenile idiopathic arthritis, some of which may continue to cause problems in adulthood. Overall, about three in 10 affected children will continue to have symptoms of inflammatory arthritis as adults.

Symptoms of juvenile idiopathic arthritis include:

  • Joint pain, swelling, warmth or stiffness
  • Severe tiredness
  • Recurrent fever
  • An unexplained limp

These symptoms may be caused by problems other than juvenile idiopathic arthritis. It is important to consult a general practitioner, who may refer to a paediatric rheumatology clinic if symptoms are likely to be caused by a rheumatology condition.

Our team of specialists

As a tertiary referral centre, The Royal Free Hospital is home to leading rheumatology specialists who work within an expert multidisciplinary to team to also offer care in the management of conditions such as scleroderma (systemic sclerosis), sarcoidosis, lupus, vasculitis and other systemic inflammatory conditions.

The Royal Free Hospital is a world-renowned centre of excellence for systemic sclerosis spectrum diseases and undertakes major clinical trials and laboratory research in this disease. Scleroderma is an uncommon autoimmune connective tissue disease that affects 1 in 20,000 individuals mainly females. It is primarily a disease of scarring or fibrosis of skin and major internal organs including lungs, heart and bowel. It is typically associated with Raynauds disease manifested as vasospasm of the blood vessels to the hands and feet. Patients often experience cold sensation of their extremities. Further information of our services are available at http://www.scleroderma-royalfree.org.uk/index.php.