Should arthritis be considered a medical emergency?

Written by: Dr Francis Kynaston-Pearson
Published: | Updated: 25/05/2023
Edited by: Emily Lawrenson

Arthritis can have a serious impact on both individual health and the healthcare system across the UK. Around 10 million people across the UK suffer from some form of arthritis, the most common forms being osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.


In this article below, revered consultant rheumatologist, Dr Francis Kynaston-Pearson, discusses why he believes arthritis should be treated as a medical emergency.

What impact can arthritis symptoms have on one's life?

Most people think arthritis is inevitable, and many assign themselves to the fact that they will develop it at some point in their lives – especially if other family members have the condition. Early symptoms can often be ignored, or pushed aside, meaning the progression of arthritis is not slowed, and damage is done to the muscle and bone.


Early symptoms may not be particularly grave in themselves, but they can lead to changes in bone and muscle, which means the patient experiences a reduction, perhaps even without thinking, in daily activities, energy, and general vitality. This greatly impacts the sufferer’s life, as they over time will not be as productive, and irreversible damage can be done to the bones and joints; as well as impacting negatively on work and home activities.


How are early arthritis symptoms treated?

Evidence supports that if spotted early, treatment for arthritis and rheumatic conditions is more effective. Symptoms and conditions are more likely to go into remission, and the joint and muscles are less likely to be permanently damaged, which means disability and surgery can be avoided.


The approach involves nutrition, exercise and where necessary, drugs, injection(s), and aggressive treatment, which can reduce the rate of progression of the condition, or even put it into remission.  Many patients are reluctant to take drugs and medication, but in the case of arthritis, prevention is better than allowing disability and loss of function to accumulate, considering the impact these have on work and home life.  With early treatment damage can be avoided and the individual is more likely to achieve remission with drugs, or even drug-free remission.


What symptoms should I look out for? know what to be aware of 

Early symptoms of arthritis include:

  • Fatigue with no obvious cause
  • Pain and stiffness in joints
  • Minor joint swelling, which may not be permanent, but rather flare up on occasion
  • Low-grade fever (fever above 38° is usually associated with infection or another form of illness)
  • The inability to bend or straighten certain joints
  • Tingling sensations, or numbness in the joints and tendons
  • General weakness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • A loss in appetite, and/or weight loss
  • A dry mouth, or dry itchy eyes


Most will display a variety of symptoms. Many who experience these symptoms do not talk to their doctor as they think nothing can be done – but the earlier you catch arthritis, the better. Joint and bone health is an important part of our lives, and it can seriously affect you when it comes to future health issues. If in doubt, check the symptoms out – help and support is always there.


To book a consultation with Dr Francis Kynaston-Pearson, visit his Top Doctors profile today. 

By Dr Francis Kynaston-Pearson

Dr Francis John Benedict Kynaston-Pearson is a highly skilled consultant rheumatologist based in Nottingham who specialises in the diagnosis and chronic pain management of a full range of rheumatological conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, arthritis, fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis. In addition, he is also an expert in the treatment of rheumatological associated joint disorders, such as hypermobility.

Dr Kynaston-Pearson completed his medical training at the University of Leicester, where he obtained both his MBChB and his BSc, before going on to practice in Oxfordshire with rotations at the John Radcliffe Hospital and the Nuffield Hospital. Wanting to acquire a broader training experience, Dr Kynaston-Pearson spent almost a year working in emergency medicine in Brisbane, Australia.

On his return to England, Dr Kynaston-Pearson went on to accomplish his early physician training at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Birmingham City Hospital. He undertook his higher rheumatology specialist training in Nottingham, Derby and Lincoln, where he qualified in both Rheumatology and General Internal Medicine. Dr Kynaston-Pearson was appointed the Chief Registrar at the Nottingham University Hospital Trust on his final training year, giving him the opportunity to work closely with the Royal College of Physicians to action quality improvement in hospitals.

Moved by his passion for education, Dr Kynaston-Pearson took out time from his specialist training in 2014 to complete a Masters in Medical Education at the University of Nottingham and continues to pursue this interest as of today, mentoring trainees and teaching medical students. Besides education and his practice, Dr Kynaston-Pearson is engaged in research and has published his work in peer-reviewed journals.

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