Rheumatology (OT)

We generally people are seen as outpatients. However, the team provides support and advice to the ward based Occupational Therapists who cover the rheumatology inpatient beds on Dunston Ward. In addition, the team covers the beds on the Rheumatology Day Unit and there is a combined Occupational Therapy & Physiotherapy led Early Arthritis clinic for patients who have recently been diagnosed with inflammatory arthritis.

You will be assessed by the Occupational Therapist, who will explain their thoughts and after discussion with you will decide on treatments that may be suitable.

Common interventions include :-

Splinting – this might be for acquired conditions such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, or to help manage pain, swelling or weakness from conditions such as Rheumatoid or Osteoarthritis. Splints can be made for resting or working in and there are a vast array of different types and materials used, with some being off the shelf and some made to measure.

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Joint protection techniques – these are specific and well established techniques designed to enable patients to change or adapt daily tasks or the way they are done in order to reduce the strain on arthritic joints. This might include using a piece of equipment to reduce effort or changing the type of grip used to reduce the strain on individual joints in the hands.

Self-management skills – these can be used to manage activity levels and prevent flare-ups by making use of pacing and energy conservation techniques, as well setting goals to help achieve certain tasks in a more manageable way.

Relaxation techniques – useful to help reduce the impact of the stress, anxiety and pain that inevitably results from a rheumatological condition.

Postural and work advice – we can help to analyse posture during activity and advise on ways to make changes to reduce pain or strain during certain movements or activities. We also have a regular Disability Employment Advisor clinic and can help support people in work or study who are having problems because of their arthritis.

Home visits are sometimes carried out in order to complete assessments within your normal environment, perhaps for certain pieces of equipment.

The Rheumatology Occupational Therapy Team serves the population of Norfolk but will also take on a limited number of referrals from neighbouring counties, such as Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. Some referrals, whilst being received or picked up at the Norfolk & Norwich, will be passed on to a local service within the patient’s home PCT if this is deemed more suitable. At present there is no paediatric service, so patients are aged 16 years and upwards.

People are referred to the Rheumatology Occupational Therapy service primarily from the six Consultant Rheumatologists and their teams based at the hospital. However, GP referrals are also accepted, as are those from other professionals, e.g. physiotherapists and Rheumatology practitioners.

People may be referred with a wide range of conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus and fibromyalgia.