Dec 12, 2019 Patient Advice Dr Peter Landsberg

Hello and welcome!

I’m Dr Peter Landsberg, one of the Rheumatologists who make up the arthritisCARE team based here in Brisbane.

What is a Rheumatologist and why would you need to see one?

Rheumatologists are medical specialists who diagnose and treat diseases of the joints, muscles and bones. Sometimes the terms rheumatic diseases or auto-immune diseases are used to describe these conditions. And most commonly, they result in pain, swelling and restriction of movement.

There are over 100 different rheumatic diseases, so sometimes the first way we can help is to provide you with a formal diagnosis. Giving you the peace of mind from knowing exactly why you are experiencing such pain and discomfort.

We then move onto a personalised treatment plan to minimise your pain and to introduce the therapies most effective in minimising the progression of your disease. Or even turning it off altogether in some cases.

We know well that significant pain and restriction of movement can make it very difficult to carry on with all you want to be able to do – at home, with your family, at work and in your leisure time. Rheumatologists work with you to get you back to actively taking part in your life!

Sometimes carefully chosen drugs will be an important part of your treatment plan. We are often asked why they are needed and whether “natural therapies” can be used instead. 

It’s a great question. But, while many non-prescription therapies like fish oil, turmeric or rosehip may help to relieve pain and swelling, they will not act to turn off the disease process. For us to be truly effective in managing your disease, prescription drugs will often be an important part of your care. 

If we are able to commence treatment early in the course of your disease, we can avoid permanent damage happening to your ligaments and bone. Avoiding the need for surgery in almost all cases now.

We even have some patients with rheumatoid disease who have gone back to playing rugby and other contact sports! Something that simply would not have been possible before the release of the powerfully effective drugs we have access to today.

Why would you choose the arthritisCARE team for the care of your joint and muscle pain? 

Between us, we have many years of experience, not just in rheumatology, but also in general medicine, ensuring that we keep the “whole person” in mind. Not just focusing on the “disease” that we are managing.  We also keep in close contact with your general practitioner for your ongoing care.

As there are several Rheumatologists at the arthritisCARE practice, we benefit from being able to turn to each other for advice. In turn, this is really helpful if you come to us with a particularly complex set of symptoms. It’s a bit like having a rheumatology brains trust in-house to work on the best treatment plan for you!

You will find us conveniently located just behind the PA Hospital, with lots of free parking or within easy walking distance of the Dutton Park Railway Station   as many of our patients do.

We can often book you in at short notice, particularly if your GP feels you need immediate attention. We also offer online reviews via Skype if you live outside of Brisbane, saving you the long trip to visit your specialist for follow up appointments.

If you think you would benefit from an appointment with one of the arthritisCARE Rheumatologists, we would be happy to work with you on your care. To book an appointment, we just need you to have a referral from your GP or referring specialist, and then contact our friendly reception team on phone (07) 3255 1066 or email to lock in a time that suits you best.

It’s like finding a pair of shoes to comfortably fit your feet or a suit to fit you perfectly. The treatments are very individualised now. There are gentle options right through to incredibly powerful treatments. We need to make the choice of medications depending on how severe the disease is, how early we have the chance to intervene in managing the disease and on each person’s individual response to therapy.

Natural therapies do help with options like Fish Oil and Turmeric being helpful in relieving pain. But these natural therapies do not have a role in actively turning off the disease.

We expect now for people to become completely well, although occasionally, even well people will have the odd flare. Similar to conditions like asthma, where people can be very well most of the time, but still need to use their puffers from time to time, folk with rheumatoid arthritis that is stable can still have the odd flare and need a bit of extra treatment.

The term we use now is “treat to target”. And the target is for people to be pain free, fit and well and have no signs of the disease. When people aren’t treated effectively, the disease can damage the joints. In fact, tissue can build up in the joint which actually eats away the bones and the ligaments. Many patients who have had the disease since the 1950’s and 60’s will have very destroyed joints.

In my clinic, I have new patients that look completely well and normal, compared with older patients from 30 or 40 years ago who have quite damaged joints and have had to go through multiple joint replacement surgeries over the years. There has been a tremendous change in treatments and expectations of outcome in the last 20 or 30 years.

So we very strongly encourage early diagnosis and early treatment. The faster we start treatment, the quicker people get better and our expectation is that people will fully recover from the pain, swelling and stiffness and lead a normal, healthy life. Having children, playing sport and travelling widely. But still having to keep in touch with their doctor regularly to make sure things continue to go well.

Dr Peter Landsberg

About The Author - Dr Peter Landsberg

Dr Peter Landsberg practices general Rheumatology with a special interest in inflammatory arthritis and connective tissue disorders. His holistic approach to medicine stems from the 12 years he spent as a GP before studying Rheumatology. On weekends you’ll find him trying (not always successfully) to stay upright on his mountain bike as he rides downhill tracks. Or out on Moreton Bay in his well-used tinnie, fishing with his family and the dog!

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