What Are Rheumatic Diseases?
Rheumatic diseases are a group of approximately 100 conditions that generally cause problems in bones, joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons. A few of the most common types of rheumatic disease are gout, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and osteoporosis.
Because the diseases that fall under the rheumatic disease umbrella vary so widely, the causes do as well. For most, however, the causes are unknown. In some cases, rheumatic diseases are brought on by an incorrect autoimmune response in which the immune system attacks healthy body parts. Several factors may lead to rheumatic diseases, including:
- Overuse injury
Symptoms of common rheumatic diseases sometimes mimic one another or other conditions and include:
- Arthritis — Affected joints may lose their full range of motion and cause pain, swelling, redness and stiffness.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome — The initial telltale symptoms are sporadic tingling or numbness in the thumb, index or middle finger.
- Gout — Pain in the big toe is often the first symptom, but as it develops, gout can cause pain and swelling of other joints, frequently the ankle or knee.
- Osteoporosis — In most cases, the first sign of osteoporosis is a bone fracture that occurs following a fall, bump or strain.
Unfortunately, most rheumatic diseases cannot be cured, but proper treatment helps to manage specific disease symptoms. Common treatments prescribed for rheumatic diseases are:
- Medications — Various medications help reduce pain and inflammation and in some cases can even slow disease progression.
- Surgeries — In most cases, surgical intervention is utilized to heal broken bones or other complications of rheumatic disease and does not treat the disease itself.
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