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Back to Widespread musculoskeletal pain

A careful clinical history and examination provide the most useful information in assessing a rheumatology patient.

If your patient presents with multiple joint pain or widespread musculoskeletal pain, this assessment is invaluable in moving forward with a management plan.

You'll always have patients that you have doubts about when reaching a diagnosis. If inflammation or a red flag diagnosis are a significant possibility, you should refer them to a specialist.

Red flag symptoms

These red flags should always make you think about serious pathology:

  • weight loss
  • fever or other systemic manifestation
  • night pain
  • single joint involvement
  • neurological symptoms and signs.

They can indicate any inflammatory, infective or neoplastic process.

Download our table of diagnostic tips (PDF, 122 KB).

Kim's diagnosis

Features from Kim's examination, history and investigations, like acute onset, family history and painful squeeze test, suggest she may have an inflammatory arthritis.

Fahmida's diagnosis

Fahmida's pattern of pain and tenderness without signs of inflammation, symptoms of poor sleep and fatigue and the history of IBS and depression are all commonly associated with fibromyalgia.

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Back to Widespread musculoskeletal pain

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