Inflammatory arthritis


Inflammatory arthritis describes a group of diseases characterised by inflammation (often swelling) of the joints and other tissues.

Rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis (linked to the skin condition called psoriasis) and ankylosing spondylitis (which affects the spine and sometimes other joints) are all types of inflammatory arthritis.

Our team of specialist doctors, nurses and therapists will diagnose and treat your symptoms to help you stay as active as possible.

More on what we do

Inflammatory arthritis can cause pain, swelling, warmth and tenderness in the joints as well as stiffness.

Treatments for inflammatory arthritis can help reduce swelling in the joints, relieve pain, prevent or slow down joint damage and reduce disability in the long term.

We generally aim to achieve 'complete remission' where all inflammation subsides and you can go back to leading a completely normal, active life.


Our team here will help diagnose your condition and help decide the best course of treatment for you.

There are medicines available to help stop your inflammatory arthritis from getting worse and reduce your risk of further problems. As well as the medicines used to control the progression of inflammatory arthritis, you may also need to take medicine specifically to relieve pain.

In addition, physiotherapy and occupational therapy may help you improve your fitness and muscle strength and make your joints more flexible.

When first diagnosed, most patients are given a course of steroid tablets or injections to dampen inflammation quickly. Steroids are effective but do cause a number of side effects so we usually also start other medications, known as 'disease-modifying drugs' to treat the inflammation in the long term.

These drugs include methotrexate, sulfasalazine, hydroxychloroquine and leflunomide. These may be used alone or in combination. All these drugs take time to work - sometimes up to four months - which is why we use steroids to bridge the gap. We usually drop down the dose of steroids gradually to assess whether the other medications have worked. 

Some conditions, such as ankylosing spondylitis don’t respond well to steroids or conventional disease-modifying drugs. Treatments for this condition include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or stronger medications to dampen the immune system called biologics. Biologic drugs are also used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis when they don’t respond to the first-line drugs listed above.

See the website link below for more information about these conditions and the medications used to treat them.

Our team

Our rheumatology team includes six consultants and a Staff Grade:

  • Dr Earl
  • Dr Haigh
  • Dr Brown
  • Dr Mascarenhas
  • Dr Abusalameh
  • Dr Cates
  • Dr Murphy


We have five nurse specialists:

  • Jill Moran
  • Tracey Morey
  • Gillian Hawkins
  • Sharon Mulcahy
  • Rachael Shaw

All of our consultants will see patients with inflammatory arthritis.

Where to find us

RD&E Wonford, Barrack Rd, Exeter EX2 5DW

Contact us

We see patients with inflammatory arthritis at the Royal Devon and Exeter hospital as well as in various community hospitals.

Your appointment letter will tell you where to attend.

Helpful websites

Children and young people

Dr Earl runs a young adult rheumatology clinic and supports a paediatric clinic where she sees patients with a variety of rheumatic diseases.

Supporting you

Living with a chronic condition can be challenging both physically and emotionally. We link with 'talking health. services at the RDE who provide extra support with patients experiencing mental health difficulties. Find out more here

Information for healthcare professionals

Further information including referral criteria for our early arthritis clinic can be found  here


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