The term rheumatism originates from Greek and means accumulation of malign, infectious fluid in joints. Rheumatism is not a disease on its own, it is a traditional name given to all of the rheumatic diseases. There are more than a hundred rheumatic diseases that affect joints, tissues, bones, muscles and nerve roots.
Rheumatism can be seen in every age groups and can cause various disorders in protection mechanism. It is very common to think that cold or hot weather causes rheumatism but this is wrong. Rheumatism causes more severe pains to overweight individuals and also causes swelling in joints, fever and pain. It causes serious pain, if not treated.
Rheumatic diseases are generally chronic diseases.
Rheumatism symptoms can be generalized as joint, muscle and bone pains, but depending on the area affected by rheumatism and if it is infectious or not, the symptoms can differ and these symptoms can be slight or severe. As there are a lot of rheumatism types, it can show itself with different complaints.
Arthritis is the most evident feature of the rheumatic diseases. Arthritis means joint infection.
Symptoms of Rheumatism:
Patients with rheumatism, usually define rheumatism symptoms as “joint and/or muscle pain”.
The pain caused by the infection can differ between slight, sudden, lasting for a few hours to severe, lasting for days and making daily life activities impossible.
Along with these pains, you may also experience stiff joints, for example, when you wake up in the morning your fingers may lock.
Rheumatism can affect the smallest joints in your legs or it can even affect your hip joints. They can affect any part of the body.
A severe back pain in the morning is a complaint that must be examined with rheumatism possibility in mind.
What can be the other symptoms of a rheumatic disease?
– Joint pains and jamming that are more severe in the morning
– Pain in the hand and foot joints that increases with inactivity
– Morning seizures.
– Repetitive mouth scars
– Back pain that is more severe in the morning
– Skin rashes
– Sunlight sensitivity on the skin
– Repetitive, unknown fever and abdominal pain
– Bruises on the fingers that appear in cold weather
– Hair loss
– Dry mouth and eyes
– Enlargement of salivary glands
– Sudden redness in the eyes
– Vision loss
– Muscle weakness
Age groups that rheumatic diseases are most common:
Majority of the rheumatic diseases affect age groups between 20 to 50. However, they can be seen in childhood to older ages. Especially, rheumatic disease symptoms that appear in early ages must be examined by a rheumatology specialist.
How many types of rheumatic diseases are there?
Essentially there are two types of rheumatism:
1) Infectious Rheumatism: Rheumatic infection has three types:
- A) Microbial rheumatisms that develop because of microbes in the joints: Various germs like staphylococcus, streptococcus and tuberculosis cause this type of rheumatism.
- B) Infection that develops because of weak immune system without germs: The most important rheumatisms that this infection causes are rheumatoid arthritis (RA), ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and diseases that cause prevalent connective tissue infections (collagen diseases). The most known example of this last group is systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
- c) Another infection typeIs the infection that develops with the irritation caused by majorly uric acid and other crystals on the joints and various tissues. Gout and pseudo gout disease cause this infection.
2) Non-Infectious Rheumatisms: The most important of these rheumatisms is arthrosis (Calcification). There is no infection in the joints with arthrosis. There is corrosion. The gristle in the joint becomes thin and disappears, and bone bulges develop on the sides of the joint. Traumas, mechanic causes, metabolic and psychological disorders are the major causes of the non-infectious rheumatisms.
Most Common Rheumatic Diseases
There are more than a hundred rheumatic diseases. The following are the most common rheumatic diseases.
Osteoarthritis is the infection of bones and joint that are close to the bones, ,it affects the 5% of the adult population of the world.
Osteoarthritis affects the gristles located freely on the joint surfaces of the bones and causes corrosion on them in time. In the developed phases of the diseases, moving the joints becomes difficult and mobility and daily activities become limited.
Osteoarthritis is considered as a normal effect of getting old; however, it can develop in younger ages, if any joint is overused.
Although is more common in knees, back, neck and fingers, every joint in our body can be affected by osteoarthritis.
Symptoms of Osteoarthritis:Swelling and pain in the joints, joints become sensitive to touch, pain while walking, difficulty of grabbing objects, difficulties while wearing clothes or combing your hair, having difficulties sitting down or bending are the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Joint Infection (Rheumatoid Arthritis)
Joint infection is a disease that mostly affects women.
In Rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system can cause pain, swelling and stiffening in the joints by triggering attacks against the tissues.
Rheumatoid arthritis can cause permanent damage and shape deformations in the joints.
Joint infection (Rheumatoid Arthritis) Symptoms: pain and swelling in the joints, symmetrical joint pain (in both feet and both hands), problems in other organs, brittle joints, exhaustion, high temperature and small nodules (rheumatoid nodules) in the joints are among the symptoms of joint infection.
Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus)
Lupus which is more commonly seen in women, as in rheumatoid arthritis, is a diseases caused by problems in the immune system.
Genetic inclination is presumed to be amongst the causes of lupus however there is no definite information on the main causes of lupus.
Symptoms of Lupus: sensitivity towards sun, joint pain, chronic tiredness, itchiness, hair loss change in colour of the fingers in cold weathers, anaemia, chest pain, seizures, brittle joints are amongst the symptoms of lupus.
Ankylosing spondylitis is most commonly seen in the lower back and reveals itself with constantly increasing pain. It is a rheumatoid disease that involves the joints in the tail bone area.
Ankylosing spondylitis is more commonly seen in young men between the stages of adolescence and the age of 30.
Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis: pain in the lower back and hips, pain spreading from the waist to the back, pain in the shoulders and neck, back pain when standing up and resting, pain at the back of the neck are amongst the symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis.
Other Rheumatism Diseases
In addition to the diseases above, the following diseases can also be classified under the heading of ‘’rheumatism’’;
- Gut disease
- Vascular necrosis (Osteonecrosis)
- Behcet’s disease
- Bursitis and other soft tissue diseases
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Degenerative joint diseases
- Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
- Eosinophilia myalgia syndrome
- Felty’s syndrome
- Infectious arthritis
- Inflammatory intestinal disease
- Child dermatomyositis
- Idiopathic arthritis
- Lyme disease
- Marfan syndrome
- Osteogenesis imperfecta
- Paget disease
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Reiter (Reactive Arthritis)
- Restless leg syndrome
- Sjögren’s syndrome
Methods used in the treatment of rheumatism
The methods used in the treatment of rheumatoid diseases change according to the severity of the disease and in which area of the body it is present.
However the relaxing of the effected joints, regular exercise, a correct nutritional program, drugs that reduce infection and correct use of joints are amongst the common mutual treatment methods used for rheumatoid diseases.
Patients with rheumatoid diseases must balance resting and physical activities well. Resting in the case of pain and tiredness, exercising when well will reduce the symptoms of the disease.
Patients with rheumatoid diseases must not consume alcohol, they must control their weight, and they must be on a strict diet that includes fruit, vegetables and whole wheat foods. For example it is not advised for gut disease patients to consume animal proteins.
You can obtain information on which foods are suitable for you, from your doctor or a nutritional specialist.