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Everything You Need to Know About Rheumatism

What is rheumatism, Understanding rheumatism, Rheumatoid arthritis in the US, Treatments for rheumatism, Common Rheumatic Disorders

Rheumatism typically occurs in older adults, ages 40-60 years. However, young adults, ages 18-34 years, may already have this condition, especially if the family has a history. Rheumatoid arthritis in the US, for example, affects around 1.3 million Americans. Women tend to get the disease more often than men.

Considering the large number of people having the disease, rheumatism covers many types. It is a broader term for diseases that commonly involve your joints. When checked, each individual may have a different diagnosis of rheumatism. To better understand the condition, let us give you a discussion about rheumatism. Here, we will cover the common rheumatic disorders, their causes and treatments, and what to expect from the disorders. So, let us get started!

What is Rheumatism?

Rheumatism, as mentioned earlier, is a medical term for different types of diseases. It covers painful conditions in the muscles, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, bones, and joints. Common symptoms for it are inflammation, loss of motion or difficulty to move, and joint pain.

What Are the Common Rheumatic Disorders?

What is rheumatism, Understanding rheumatism, Rheumatoid arthritis in the US, Treatments for rheumatism, Common Rheumatic Disorders

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There are hundreds of rheumatic diseases, and the most common ones are as follows:

  • Polymyalgia rheumatica
  • Juvenile idiopathic arthritis
  • Scleroderma
  • Gout
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Lupus
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis

What Are the Causes of Rheumatism?

Many of these rheumatic diseases occur when the immune system attacks the tissues. Medical experts are not sure why this happens. It can involve your genes or can be a result of the things around you like pollution and smoking. Gender is also a factor as women have a higher chance of getting the disease than men. This is because the female immune system is more reactive than the males.

Common Types of Rheumatism Explained

In this section, we will discuss what each common rheumatic disease listed above is.

Polymyalgia Rheumatica

Polymyalgia rheumatica is an inflammatory condition that creates aching, flu-like symptoms, and stiffness in many parts of the body. The symptoms may occur suddenly or slowly, such as:

  • Weight loss
  • Poor appetite
  • Fever
  • Stiffness that gets worse after lying or sitting still or in the morning
  • Pain and stiffness in the upper arms, thighs, neck, hips, or buttocks

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

This is common in kids and teens. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis causes inflammation and pain in the following:

  • Wrists
  • Elbows
  • Ankles
  • Knees
  • Hands

Common symptoms include:

  • Rashes
  • Fever
  • Swollen joints
  • Joint pain


Scleroderma is a chronic disease of the connective tissue. It causes the skin to harden. There are two types for this: systemic sclerosis and localized scleroderma. Systemic sclerosis may occur in many body parts like joints, muscles, organs, skin, or blood vessels.

Localized scleroderma is the most common one and typically affects children ages 2-14 years. However, this type can also occur in many adults, typically ages 40 years and above. It makes the skin hard including the bone, muscle, connective tissue, and fat behind it.

Symptoms of scleroderma may include:

  • Weak muscles
  • Tender, warm, swollen, and stiff joints
  • Lung, kidney, and heart problems
  • Dry vagina, skin, eyes, or mouth
  • Digestive issues
  • Calcium lumps underneath the skin


What is rheumatism, Understanding rheumatism, Rheumatoid arthritis in the US, Treatments for rheumatism, Common Rheumatic Disorders

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Gout is a type of arthritis caused by uric acid build-up in the bloodstream. The uric acid crystals also build up in the joints, usually in the big toe or foot. You may experience symptoms like:

  • Stiff joints that cause trouble when moving
  • Redness and inflammation
  • Discomfort
  • Intense joint pain that may also occur in the fingers, wrists, elbows, knees, and ankles

Sjogren’s Syndrome

This rheumatic disease makes body parts dry out like the mouth and eyes. Symptoms may include:

  • Internal organ diseases
  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Swollen glands that are on the sides of the face
  • Gum disease or tooth decay
  • Dry mouth
  • Eye burning or irritation


Lupus is an autoimmune disease where your immune system attacks your organs and tissues. Inflammation caused by lupus may occur in the lungs, heart, brain, blood cells, kidneys, skin, or joints. Symptoms for the disease include:

  • Stroke
  • Seizures
  • Chest pain
  • Blood disorders like anemia
  • Problems in the organs like kidneys
  • Blue or white toes or fingers when exposed to the cold weather
  • Hair loss
  • Sun sensitivity
  • Rashes
  • Joint stiffness
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is not part of aging. It happens when the immune system attacks tissues that causes joint stiffness, swelling, and pain. Its symptoms include:

  • Lumps
  • Fatigue
  • Joint stiffness in the morning
  • Problems in some organs like lungs
  • Pain and inflammation in many joints like ankles and wrists


Osteoarthritis does not have to do with the problem with the immune system. It happens when there is damage to the body’s cartilage. It wears down, resulting in painful joints that are hard to move. It typically affects the feet, fingers, neck, lower back, hips, and knees.

Symptoms include:

  • Stiffness
  • Warmth
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Muscle weakness

What Are the Treatments for Rheumatic Diseases?

What is rheumatism, Understanding rheumatism, Rheumatoid arthritis in the US, Treatments for rheumatism, Common Rheumatic Disorders

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There are no treatments for rheumatic diseases that can completely heal the conditions. The treatments for rheumatism will only help ease or lower the pain and swelling. This will help you move comfortably and normally.

Doctors usually prescribe patients medications to help alleviate pain and inflammation. Medications may include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and steroids.

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Rheumatologists may also use laser therapy to help ease symptoms of rheumatism. This type of therapy does not use drugs but irradiation that increases the body’s production of a morphine-like substance. This reduces the nervous system’s impulse frequency, strength, and conduction velocity in the irradiated area. This results in a stronger analgesic effect.

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If medications or laser therapy fails to slow down or prevent damage, surgery might be needed. This is to repair damaged joints, so you can restore your ability to use them.


Understanding rheumatism will help you identify what type of rheumatic disease you might have. If you feel similar symptoms from any of the diseases mentioned, it is important to visit a rheumatologist soonest. Make sure to follow your doctor’s advice to help you regain the optimum functionality of your joints, bones, or muscles. So, try to assess the symptoms you may have now and do not hesitate to visit your doctor.

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