Managing and Diagnosing Musculoskeletal Pain - Rheumatology Consultant London | Rheumatologist London | Dr Stephanie Barrett



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Tel: 020 7730 8508

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A referral letter from your GP and any scans/X rays you may have with you at every appointment.

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Musculoskeletal pain can be indicative of many conditions. It is sadly a common experience for many people living with rheumatic conditions and pain disorders. Many people with musculoskeletal pain are referred to rheumatology for further examinations and tests.

Diagnosis when a patient presents with musculoskeletal pain can be difficult as it can indicator many things from a metabolic bone disorder to a systemic rheumatic disease. Any pain said to effect the muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones is classed as musculoskeletal.

Musculoskeletal Pain Conditions

There are over 200 musculoskeletal conditions and they can affect the joints, bones and muscles. The pain can lead to difficult in mobility, disability and considerable pain.

Pain management is always a balance and it is something each patient needs to discuss with their doctor. There is no set method for handling musculoskeletal pain due to its connection to so many different conditions.

Diagnosing Musculoskeletal Pain Conditions

Most patients with musculoskeletal pain will go through a wide range of different examinations to help diagnose any underlying condition. Tests carried out may include:

Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR)/C-reactive protein (CRP)

These tests can help to diagnose inflammatory arthritic conditions. They help to distinguish inflammatory conditions from other joint problems. It is not enough on its own to form a diagnosis of arthritis.

Rheumatoid Factor Tests

Rheumatoid factor tests can indicate rheumatoid arthritis as well as the condition Sjögren’s syndrome. However, a negative rheumatoid factor test doesn’t guarantee that a patient doesn’t have arthritis.


X-rays are not hugely effective in the diagnostic process but they can help to show some signs of rheumatoid arthritis. It is much easier to diagnose osteoarthritis through x-rays. They are still a key part of the full diagnostic process, to rule out any other problems.

Other tests such as joint aspiration and antinuclear factor testing may be used.

Treating and managing your musculoskeletal pain is best handled by an experienced medical team. Once you have a full diagnosis for the cause of your pain, you can move forward and discuss treatment options with your doctor. Dr Barrett works with patients living with many musculoskeletal conditions and can work with you to develop a care plan which works.