The main common characteristics of the rheumatic conditions are represented by inflammations, followed by a disability of one of the body’s supporting structures. The most affected by rheumatic diseases are the articulations, ligaments, bones, tendons and muscles that become painful, swollen and rigid. Some of the 100 types of rheumatic disorders may affect the other organs.

Some people generically call “arthritis” any kind of rheumatic problem. But, unlike the other conditions, arthritis only attacks the articulations. There are some rheumatic diseases that are considered disorders of connective tissues, while others are seen as auto immune.

Some rheumatic diseases

  • Rheumatic arthritis is a disease in which the synovium is swollen and very painful. The articulations hurt, become rigid and are severely damaged or taken out of use. The articulations of the hand of the feet are the most affected. Rheumatic arthritis is a symmetrical disease, which affects 1% of the population, only in the U.S.
  • Juvenile rheumatic arthritis is the most frequent arthritis that affects children. Most of the symptoms are common to those of the adults, but there are others to be added such as rashes and fever
  • Osteoarthritis affects the cartilages and makes them wear away. It causes pain of the articulations, rigidity, and in case it touches the spine, disables it ,the knees and hips, too. It is the most frequent form of arthritis and it affects over 21 millions of Americans
  • Systematic lupus erythematosus has a auto immune character. The healthy cells and tissues are damaged by the organism’s own means of protecting itself against infections. The inflammation produced by this disease attacks the skin, the articulations, the kidneys, the brain, the blood vessels, the heart and the lungs.
  • Spondyloarthopathies that mostly attack the spine have, as any common form of ankylosing spondylitis. The spine is followed by the shoulders, hips and knees, then the inflammation extends over the tendons and ligaments, which become painful and rigid. It mostly affects young people. Other example of spondyloarthopathy is Reiter’s syndrome, an infection of the bowel, the lower urinary tract and causes skin rashes, eye problems and mouth sores.
  • Fibromylagia has a chronic character and gives the articulations and the tissues that determine the bones to move, pain, rigidity, and localized sensitivity of the muscles and tendons. It especially affects the spine, shoulders, hips and neck and causes the patient insomnia and tiredness.
  • Scleroderma, or systematic sclerosis affects the skin, articulations and blood vessels, and, sometimes, internal organs. It is caused by an over increased quantity of collagen inside the body.
  • Polymylagia rheumatica is very painful and causes rigidity of the shoulders, hips, neck and lower back, especially in the morning. It affects tendons, muscles, ligaments and everything that surrounds the articulations. In time, it may degenerate into giant cell arthritis, a disorder that affects the arteries and generates weight loss, fever, swelling and weakness.
  • Gout is a type of arthritis generated by the deposits of uric acid crystals in the articulations. Has as main symptoms inflammation, swelling, and almost unbearable pain
  • Psoriatic arthritis affects only people with psoriasis. It mostly affects the fingers and toes’ articulations and it modifies the aspect of the nails. In case it touches the spine, back pain is added to the symptoms
  • Infectious arthritis is caused by viruses or bacteria. Two examples are gonococcal arthritis and parvovirus arthritis. The symptoms of arthritis often appear in Lyme disease. This disease is generated by bacterial infection that occurs after the bite of some ticks.

An early diagnosis is vital to prevent a serious damage

  • Tendinitis is, as the name says, a disorder of the tendons. They become inflamed, painful and extremely sensitive and produce restriction of movement
  • Bursitis is produced by the swelling of the bursae, it generates sensitivity and pain and limits the movements of the close articulations
  • Polymyositis weakens and inflames the muscle. It may cause disability, in case it affects the entire body.

By: Ethan Armitage

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21 Jun 2007