Rheumatic Diseases: Types, Symptoms, Causes, and Diagnosis

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Anyone can get rheumatic disease regardless of age and gender. Other than the intense aches and pains, these diseases can cause systemic inflammation and body-wide immune dysregulation. This post closely examines the different types of rheumatic diseases, symptoms, causes, and diagnoses.

What are Rheumatic Diseases?

Currently, over 200 distinct rheumatic diseases exist. The United States alone has more than 300,000 children and 54 million adults who have visited a rheumatologistand been diagnosed with rheumatic disease. Rheumatic diseases often lead to autoimmune dysfunction, tissue degeneration, and inflammation. This disease mostly affects specific parts of the musculoskeletal system, such as bones, joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

Most Common Symptoms of Rheumatoid Diseases

While each rheumatic disease type has its unique symptoms and can affect a different section of your body, some of the most common symptoms include:

Swelling

Aches and pains

Feelings of fatigue and tiredness

Fever

Weight loss

Malaise

Stiffness or loss of motion in joints

Inflammation

Common Rheumatic Disorders

Whilenumerous rheumatic disorders exist, among the most common ones are the following:

Lupus

Medical experts also refer to this chronic autoimmune disease as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). The condition involves the immune system’s reaction against tissues and organs, causing damage. It mostly affects the heart, joints, kidneys, skin, blood, hair, lungs, and liver, leading to inflammation, pain, and damage. While the majority of lupus patients only experience mild symptoms, the condition can get severe and become life-threatening.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

With this disorder, the immune system launches attacks against your body tissues, causing swelling, joint pain, and stiffness. Its most common target is usually the joints in knees, hands, and wrists, and the condition can attack multiple joints at go.

Most people with rheumatoid arthritis lose joint function and sometimes develop deformities in the affected joints. If left untreated, this disorder can affect major body organs like the lungs, eyes, heart, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems.

Sjogren’s Disease

Sjogren’s disorder makes various body parts, like the mouth and eyes, dry out. The condition often occurs when the immune system attacks internal organs, especially the lungs, and glands, that yield tears and saliva. Most patients with this condition experience symptoms like dry eyes, swollen glands, eye irritation and burning, tooth decay, and gum disease.

Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS)

This type of inflammatory arthritis targets the spine and can lead to long-term stiffness and immobility in severe cases. The condition mostly happens in women rather than men. Other than the stiffness in your pelvis and lower back, AS patients also experience inflammation in large body joints like ribs, hips, and shoulders. Its intensity is more at the sacroiliac joints, which is the area where the spine connects to the pelvis.

If your case is severe, the inflammation resulting from this disease can lead to new bones forming on your spine. This can increase stiffness and significantly decrease the range of motion.

Scleroderma

Typically, Scleroderma involves inflammation of connective joint tissues, skin, and organs. It occurs and accumulates in the body as a result of the overproduction of collagen. Doctors classify Scleroderma in two conditions; diffuse cutaneous Scleroderma and limited cutaneous Scleroderma.

With limited cutaneous Scleroderma, the target is typically the skin of your knees, neck, hands, and elbows. Diffuse cutaneous Scleroderma, on the other hand, affects large body parts and significantly affects the cardiac and respiratory systems. Patients with this condition have restricted movement due to skin hardening.

Gout

Gout is a rheumatic disorder that occurs due to excessive buildup of uric acid in your body. The uric acid creates crystals in specific body areas, majorly the joints and skin. Due to the uric acid buildup, people with gout may also suffer from metabolic syndrome and systemic inflammation. Common symptoms include discomfort, intense joint pain, trouble moving, inflammation and redness.

Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis mostly occurs in patients who have lived with psoriasisfor several years, which is an autoimmune condition related to the skin. It’s not yet clear what causes psoriatic arthritis.

Infectious Arthritis

Viral, fungal, and bacterial infections are among the leading causes of infectious arthritis. When you have an infection in the joint, your body’s immune system naturally moves to fight it. As a result, you experience inflammation that causes swelling, pain, and even damage to the joint. The condition is more common in older adults, children, and those who misuse drugs.

Why Timely Diagnosis and Care Is Important

If you are experiencing symptoms related to any of the rheumatic diseases, it is best to visit your doctor or rheumatologist for a check-up. A timely diagnosis will help you receive treatment early enough and prevent the condition from worsening and causing more severe symptoms. 

Your treatment plan may include medications, a healthy diet, stress management, rest, regular exercise, and more. Considering the extensive damage rheumatic diseases can cause to your tissues and joints over time, make it a priority to seek proper treatment as soon as possible.

No matter what rheumatic disease symptoms you may be seeing, the good news is that you can be diagnosed, get treatment, and live a healthy life again. Make it a priority to seek medical attention from an experienced healthcare professional or doctor.

The post Rheumatic Diseases: Types, Symptoms, Causes, and Diagnosis appeared first on Wellbeing Magazine.

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