Here you will find answers to some of our patients frequently asked questions, along with some general information to help you prepare for your appointment.

Why am I being seen by the Sussex MSK Partnership?

Sussex MSK Partnership (Central) is the local NHS organisation responsible for treating patients with bone, joint and muscular problems, including rheumatism, arthritis and chronic pain. MSK stands for ‘musculoskeletal’. We aim to get patients on the right course of treatment as soon as possible, through self-management advice, physiotherapy, medication, surgery or other medical interventions.

We want to make your care as straightforward as possible, by providing one point of contact as close to your home as possible. We believe you should be in control of what happens, get choice of where to go, be involved in decisions about care and treatment and supported to better manage your condition.

All patients across Brighton and Hove, Crawley, mid-Sussex and Horsham with a musculoskeletal (MSK) condition are referred to our service. Referrals are assessed (or ‘triaged’) by specially trained clinicians who are up to date on best practice. They look at the information in the referral and decide the best course of action.

Very often the next step will be an appointment at a local community clinic with the most appropriate clinician to deal with your health problem. This will be one of the following:

Physiotherapist

Doctor (Consultant, Registrar, GP who has been specially trained in MSK conditions)

Nurse Specialist

Podiatrist (if it is a foot problem)

Advanced Practitioner (AP) – this is a clinician with advanced knowledge and skills and will be from one of the following professional backgrounds: Osteopath, Occupational Therapist, Physiotherapist or Podiatrist.

Whenever you have contact with the Sussex MSK partnership, you should be treated fairly, regardless of race, sexuality, disability, age, gender or religion. We take the safety of all patients using services seriously and are committed to ensuring that all patients feel safe.

Who will I see at my appointment?

You have an appointment with a clinician who is best able to deal with your condition. Please allow about 30 minutes for your appointment (this may be longer or shorter depending on your clinical need). During the consultation you will be able to discuss your history and symptoms and the clinician will assess your condition.

You will get a chance to talk about different options for treatment, and receive information that will help you manage your condition.  The clinician will explain any medical treatments available, including risks and benefits.

Medical students or other trainee clinicians or colleagues may be observing in the consultation, as part of their training or supervision. The clinician will ask your permission for this to happen and it will only happen with your consent.

How long can I expect to wait for my appointment?

Waiting times vary accross the service, but we aim to see all patients within 8 weeks of the referral having been recieved.

For the most up to date information please visit our waiting times page.

How can I prepare for my appointment?

Here are some questions that might be helpful in getting you to prepare for your appointment:

What are my current symptoms?

What things worry you most about your condition or your symptoms?

What are the most important questions you would like to ask?

What are your expectations following your appointment?

At the end of my appointment

It may be a good idea to write down the most important things discussed at your appointment, they following are some suggestions:

What is your understanding of your condition?  What has caused you symptoms?

What treatment options are available?  What are the pros and cons of each option?

What can you do to look after yourself?

What should I bring? What else do I need to know?

Please bring a list of your current medicines, including prescribed and non-prescribed medicines (e.g. over the counter medicines and supplements). You do not need to bring your medicines with you.

If you have had a scan or X-Ray outside your local NHS provider, please send us your CD and contact us to arrange for these to be available at your appointment. Please bear in mind that it can take a long time to get hold of these, so the sooner you can let us know the better.

If appropriate, you may be offered a steroid injection during the appointment. Your clinician will always discuss this and ask for your consent first. If you do have an injection, you will be advised to rest for 30 minutes afterwards, and then consider whether you are safe to drive home.

Depending on your condition, you may need to expose your shoulder(s), so you can be examined properly.

You are welcome to bring a relative or a friend to your appointment. Alternatively, we can arrange a chaperone if you would like someone to be with you. This is an independent person specially trained to support patients. Please let our team know on 0300 303 8063 before the appointment if you would like a chaperone.

I need an interpreter, how can I arrange this?

If you need an interpreter, please contact our team on 0300 303 8063 and we can arrange for one to be at the appointment with you. We can also arrange for interpreters for telephone appointments.

What will happen after my appointment?

You will be able to discuss with the clinician what will happen next which may be one or a combination, of the following things:

You may be discharged from the service.

You may be sent for further tests, such as a blood test, x-ray or MRI scan. For more information on tests within our service, please visit our Diagnostics page.

You may be offered a follow-up appointment, either on the telephone or face-to-face.

You may be referred to a hospital of your choice if further advice or treatment is required.

Whatever happens, you will receive advice on how best to look after yourself and manage your condition. If you have any other questions, please let us know by contacting 0300 303 8063 where our team will be pleased to help you.

How can I look after myself while I’m waiting to be seen?

Our specialist clinicians have compiled a selection of resources to help you manage your symptoms while you are waiting to be seen.

Foot & Ankle

Hand & Wrist

Shoulder

Elbow

Hip

Knee

Pain Management

Rheumatology

Spine 

Physiotherapy

You can also find further information about general health and other services on our Looking After Yourself page

How long will I need to wait to be seen?

You can find the latest wait times available on our waiting times page

I have been booked for an injection, what do I need to know?

Steroid injections are known to be a useful treatment for pain, swelling and stiffness within a joint or the area around the joint. The joint is injected with a preparation of local anaesthetic and corticosteroid. The anaesthetic aims to reduce the pain initially for 30 minutes and the corticosteroid aims to reduce the inflammation and therefore it may take up to 2 weeks for the effects of the injection to start working. The response to the injection varies from person to person but can last from several weeks to many months. There is some research to suggest that steroid may be harmful to tendon tissue so your clinician will discuss the risks and benefits for your condition on an individual basis.

There are some health conditions for which an injection of steroid and anaesthetic is restricted.

Please let us know of any of the following before you attend the clinic for an injection and your clinician will discuss these with you:

- Any open wounds such as leg ulcers or cellulitis at the site of the injection

- An artificial joint present in the area to be injected

- On any antibiotic treatment for an infection or within 48 hours of stopping

- Allergy to local anesthetic or steroid

- On immunosuppressant drugs e.g. for HIV or arthritis

- Are receiving any chemotherapy treatment for the management of cancer  

- Taking a blood thinner e.g. warfarin

- You have uncontrolled Diabetes Mellitus

- You are pregnant or breast feeding

- You have had a live vaccine within the past 4 weeks

- You have or have had Tuberculosis (TB) in the past

- You have had an adverse reaction to a steroid or anaesthetic injection in the past

 

What should I expect after my joint injection?

We advise you spend 30 minutes resting quietly in the clinic waiting area and make sure you feel well before you leave. Report to reception if you feel unwell.

- Avoid strenuous activity for the rest of the day.

- The injected area may be numb for up to 24 hours.

- The injected site may be sore for one to two days as explained in the side effects.

- Do not use heat pads or any other form of heat on the injection site for two days following the injection. You may however choose to use an ice pack on the injection site for pain.

- For a weight bearing joint we recommend that you rest and gently potter at home for 2 days after your injection to improve the likelihood of a good response.

- You may develop a bruise at the injection site.

Most people notice improvement in their pain in 2 weeks. Maximum improvement of your pain may take up to 6 weeks following your injection.

If you are having a vaccination within 4 weeks of your injection please contact your GP

IMPORTANT: If you develop a rash or if the injection site is red, hot, swollen or painful, you may be developing an infection. Please contact the musculoskeletal team, or your GP. If you are unable to contact either of these and continue to have concerns, please go to A&E.

Follow up after injection is not required in most cases. If you do not benefit from your injection or you have any queries contact SMSKP for reassessment. Your records are kept open for 6 months should you need to contact us.

Are there any side effects to having an injection?

Side effects of a steroid injection are rare. Your clinician will discuss the side effects with you at the time of the injection.

What are the potential side effects?

Flare Up: Affects about 1 in 10 people. Occasionally people notice a flare in their joint pain within the first 24 hours after an injection. This usually settles on its own within a couple of days. Take your usual pain killers to relieve symptoms.

Infection: Very rarely infection might be introduced into the joint at the time of an injection (estimated as 1 in 23,000 people). If the joint or area becomes more painful and hot, red, or swollen you may be developing an infection. You should see your doctor immediately or if this is not possible go to A&E

Thinning of skin: Occasionally some thinning of the skin or dimpling skin colour change may occur at the injection site. This is more likely to happen if you have a higher dose of steroid,

Facial flushing: Steroid injections may sometimes cause facial flushing or interfere with the menstrual cycle making them irregular temporarily. You should consult your GP if concerned, or if it persists.

Mood change: Treatment with steroids may cause changes in mood – either elation or depression. This may be more common in people with a previous history of mood disturbance. If you have concerns please discuss this with your doctor

Change in glycemic control: People with diabetes may find that the steroid injection affects their blood sugar control; you may notice a temporary blood sugar rise. It is recommended that you check your blood levels more regularly; it may take between 1-3 weeks for them to settle.

What do you do with my information?

Your records are held by Here as the prime contact holder for the Sussex MSK Partnership Central.  If you would like to find out more please click here