Rheumatology is the study and/or practice involving systemic (body-wide) autoimmune inflammatory disorders of the musculoskeletal system, commonly referred to as rheumatic diseases. Rheumatologists are internists with special training and experience in the diagnosis and treatment of these diseases.
Rheumatism, or rheumatic disease, is an umbrella term used for conditions that cause inflammation of the connecting or supporting tissues of the body. Most often, this affects the connective tissues in the joints, such as tendons, ligaments, bones, and muscles, causing chronic, often intermittent pain. These diseases can ultimately cause loss of function of those body parts.
What Is Rheumatic Disease?
Rheumatic diseases are different from most autoimmune diseases in that they can affect many organs, cells, or tissues simultaneously. These diseases include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus)
- Juvenile idiopathic arthritis
- Infectious arthritis
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Reactive arthritis
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Systemic sclerosis (scleroderma)
- Sjögren’s syndrome
Rheumatic Disease Symptoms
The hallmark of all rheumatic disease is pain and inflammation. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is one of the most common rheumatic diseases, the symptoms of which include:
- Warmth and redness
- Difficulty using the joint normally
Rheumatic diseases can produce a wide variety of additional symptoms, such as:
- Pain in the neck, spine, or back
- Muscle pain
- Rashes and sores
- Eye inflammation or infections
- Difficulty taking a deep breath
What Causes Rheumatic Diseases?
Experts believe that rheumatism is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Factors in the environment may trigger the onset of rheumatic disease in individuals who have certain gene variants that can increase a person’s susceptibility to rheumatic disease.
In those with a genetic predisposition to the disease, rheumatism may be triggered by hormonal spikes, bacterial or viral infections, or obesity. If an individual has an inherited cartilage weakness combined with excessive joint stress, they may be more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis or other rheumatic conditions.
Risk Factors of Rheumatism
There are many factors that can put you at greater risk for developing one or more rheumatic diseases such as RA. Some of these are more prevalent in men than in women, in people of different races, and people in certain age groups. Even diet seems to influence the susceptibility of developing rheumatic disease.
- Gout and spondyloarthropathies are more common among men
- Lupus most often affects African-Americans and Hispanics
- Women are far more likely than men to develop rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, fibromyalgia, and lupus
- Obesity and smoking increase your risk for a number of rheumatic diseases
Family Doctor in Atoka, Oklahoma
If you are having joint pain or any type of health issue, schedule an evaluation by Dr. Ardry Yarbrough. Our team here at Carrus Care Clinic of Atoka is also here for your annual physicals, flu shots and other immunizations and vaccinations, and to help you stave off any illnesses you may be susceptible to.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Yarbrough, contact us today by calling us at (580) 364-8205 or fill out our appointment request form online now. We look forward to being your healthcare partner!