What is a Rheumatic Disease and What Causes it?

| Texas Partners Healthcare Group

What is a Rheumatic Disease and What Causes it Texas Partners Healthcare Group Dallas

A Rheumatic disease is one that can affect your joints, muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments. In more rare cases, rheumatic disease can even affect various bodily organs. Joints are most commonly affected as a result of a rheumatic disease. There are over 100 different types of rheumatic diseases in existence. These types of diseases typically all share a common trait in that they cause inflammation in the body that connects the above mentioned connecting and supporting structures and tissues.

Arthritis falls under the category of a Rheumatic disease and is probably the most common type in the category, while there is a multitude of different kinds of arthritis to be considered. The name “arthritis” itself actually translates to “joint inflammation.” While different types of arthritis are common, rheumatic diseases, in general, affect more than 46 million Americans.

The most common symptoms of Rheumatic diseases often include:

  • Joint pain (upon movement or in stillness)
  • Bodily inflammation (swelling, tenderness, redness, and warmth near and around the affected area)
  • Loss of movement in joints that are affected
  • Stiffness of the affected area

Other less common symptoms can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Rashes
  • Fever
  • Muscle pain
  • Sores
  • Pain in the neck or back 

What causes Rheumatic Disease?

The main factor involved with rheumatic diseases is the failure of the immune system to function properly. The immune system rebels against the body and attacks its own tissues. Doctors are not entirely sure what causes this, however, many believe it is a defect in one’s genes, and some believe that it is a result of a reaction to various environmental factors, such as pollution, etc. Many doctors believe it is a combination of both genes and environmental factors. Rheumatic diseases are more commonly found in males and are more common from middle-aged and older.

Some of the most common Rheumatic diseases include:

Osteoarthritis

This is one of the most common types of arthritis, which typically results in the destruction of the cartilage. The cartilage is the soft tissue surrounding the area where bones and joints connect in order to form a sort of cushion.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

this is an autoimmune disorder where the synovium is attacked by the immune system. The synovium is a soft tissue that lines the joints.

Lupus

this type of rheumatic disease occurs when the immune system attacks various healthy cells and tissues, it can affect various parts of the body including the organs.

Gout

this is a type of arthritis that develops when crystals of uric acid deposit into the joints. It is commonly found on one’s big toe.

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis

this type of arthritis is the most common that is found in children. It often includes symptoms other than the common joint pain and swelling, but also fever and rashes.

How to get relief from your Rheumatic Disease

It is dependent upon the type of rheumatic disease that you are suffering from as to how your doctor will want to treat it, and there is usually no single medication or treatment for these types of diseases. There are various medications used in treatment, while some just relieve symptoms, others can potentially result in positive changes in health. The different medications, dependent upon the disease, often include:

  • Painkillers (oral analgesics) – medications such as over-the-counter painkillers like acetaminophen are often used for relief. Some doctors also opt to prescribe prescription narcotics (opioids)
  • Topical painkillers (creams, gels, ointments)
  • Steroids
  • Corticosteroids – this medication can help significantly with anti-inflammation but also can have negative long-term side effects
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – these medications often include over-the-counter medicines like ibuprofen and naproxen sodium
  • Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) – these medications can help to slow down the progression of some rheumatic diseases by aiding the immune system and its functioning
  • Janus kinase inhibitors – this is a new type of medication under the DMARD category and helps by affecting the Janus kinase pathways which are relevant to the immune system responses in the body
  • Biologics – this medication falls under DMARDs and works by addressing inflammation

Aside from medication, your doctor will also likely inform you about other ways to get relief from your condition such as:

  • Physical therapy
  • Chiropractic care
  • Acupuncture
  • Exercises to target the joints and muscles affected
  • Heating and cool therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Braces for weak joints
  • Surgery

Often the best relief will be found with a combination of medication and alternative therapies. Living with a rheumatic disease can be life altering, and here at Texas Partners Healthcare Group we understand and are devoted to helping you to find relief from your pain. If you have any questions or would like to come to see us about our various pain management techniques, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.

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