NHS Careers > Explore by career > Doctors > Careers in medicine > Medicine > Rheumatology


Rheumatology is a specialty that deals with a group of conditions collectively called "rheumatic or musculo-skeletal diseases". The term covers over 200 conditions affecting joints, bones, soft tissues and muscles. Arthritis is the biggest cause of physical disability in the UK.

Arthritis and rheumatism is the most frequent self-reported long-standing condition in Britain. Some of the conditions are very common, for example osteoarthritis, back pain and rheumatoid arthritis, while others are rarer and more exotic - systemic lupus erythematosus, systemic sclerosis or vasculitis. The multi-system nature of many of the conditions provides the opportunity to keep in touch with all medical and surgical specialties while at the same time working in a very specialised field.

It is a multi-disciplinary specialty involving close collaboration with most other specialties and a variety of health professionals, including physiotherapists, occupational therapists, chiropodists, surgical fitters, clinical psychologists, specialist nurses and others.

Personal qualities should include:

  • Ability to work in a clinical team and to understand the multi-disciplinary nature of the specialty
  • Flexible approach to service development
  • A will to understand the impact of chronic incurable disabling conditions to the individual patient
  • Ability to keep up with recent developments in biomedical research
  • Some manual dexterity and technical skills

Further information

For further information on this specialty, please contact:

Royal College of Physicians
11 St Andrews Place
Regents Park

Tel: 0207 935 1174
Website: www.rcplondon.ac.uk
Education: education@rcplondon.ac.uk
International office: international@rcplondon.ac.uk
Other enquiries: visit website for appropriate email addresses

More information can also be found on the Medical Careers website under the 'medicine' link of the specialty pages list.