It’s always a busy but enjoyable time attending Rheumatology Annual Scientific meetings and this year’s NZRA & ARA meeting in Auckland was no exception. CreakyJoints Australia met up with many rheumatologists, researchers and arthritis related organisations and attended a number of interesting presentations. Here are a few session highlights:

Rural rheumatology – Australian Perspective

Speakers: Professor Matt Brown and A/Professor Brendon Yee

There is an existing shortage of rheumatologists in Australia, and in rural and remote areas of Australia this number is much greater. In this Advanced Trainee Preceptorship (a session designed for rheumatology students), attendees were given insights into being a rural rheumatologist in Australia.

We heard that there is often a 6 month waiting list for new patients to be seen and that Gout was very prolific amongst the patients Dr Capon saw. Both rheumatologists commented that the rural patients they see are quite different to their city patients. They seem to have a more positive mindset about their health, are more compliant and more loyal – possibly due to dedication shown by their visiting doctor.

Dr Capon and Dr Burnet encouraged new rheumatologists to include rural practice into their careers as the experience would give them a much broader education as well as provide greater access to rural patients. A registry of funds provided by the Australian Rheumatology Association is available to support rheumatologists wishing to go rural.


Sleep Disturbance in Rheumatologic Disease

We attended the second part of this session so only heard Dr Yee’s presentation, which was really interesting.
He said there was no actual tool to measure sleepiness and fatigue in those living with rheumatologic disorders, yet it was evident that these were common symptoms reported by patients.
He discussed a number of studies relating to sleep disturbance and autoimmune disorders such as RA. Some main points captured from the studies he covered were:

– There is a high incidence of sleep apnea in patients with RA
– Use of CPAP for sleep apnea has shown to reduce inflammatory levels
– There is a higher incidence in people developing autoimmune disorders if they have sleep apnea
– There is potentially something protective in treating sleep apnea with CPAP and not developing an autoimmune disorder
– There are some links between cervical spine myopathy and sleep apnea
– There is an increased risk of restless leg syndrome in patients with RA

We all know that good sleep plays an important role for us to function well in our lives, so if you are experiencing regular sleep disturbances or what you think might be poor sleep, it might be a good idea to see a sleep doctor.


Interview with New Zealand Rheumatologist Dr Rebecca Grainger

We had a nice chat with Dr Rebecca Grainger who shared some insights into her life as a rheumatologist. Click here to read article.