Rheumatology deals with the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic diseases. These involve problems of the joints and allied conditions of the connective tissue. Rheumatism refers to various painful medical conditions which affect bones, joints, muscles, tendons. It may also involve internal organs including, heart, skin, kidneys and lungs.
Rheumatism has been more specifically classified, based on location and characteristics of symptoms. Rheumatic diseases and conditions primarily affect joints, tendons, ligaments, bones, and muscles. They are characterized by the signs of inflammation - redness, heat, swelling, and pain. They are also characterized by loss of function among one or more connective or supportive structures of the body. These diseases can also affect internal organs.
Some people use the word arthritis to refer to all rheumatic diseases. Arthritis, which literally means joint inflammation, is just part of the rheumatic diseases. Arthritis primarily involves joint pain,stiffness,inflammation and damage.
Rheumatism and rheumatic disease are terms which can be used interchangeably. The various types of arthritis, however, are just part of the rheumatic diseases.
1. Rheumatoid arthritis
4. Reactive Arthritis
5. Juvenile arthritis
6. Psoriatic arthritis
7. Infectious arthritis
Arthritis must not be neglected. If that done then almost invariably the patient will be crippled and become dependent on others even for his daily activities, and may lose mobility as well as means of livelihood. Hence Arthritis must be treated.
Treatment of Arthritis Involves :
This is achieved by a combination of :
Physiotherapy is vital in the treatment of many rheumatological disorders. Occupational therapy can help patients finding alternative ways for common movements which would otherwise be restricted by their disease. Various other ancillary therapies are available like Acupressure, Magneto therapy, etc.
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|Normal Joint||Rheumatoid Arthritis|
Qs : Doctor, aren’t Arthritis and Rheumatism synonymous?
Ans: Strictly speaking, no ‘Rheumatism’ refers to aches and pains from the muscles and other structures outside the joints. On the other hand, Arthritis means disease inside the joints, specially when joints are inflamed.
Qs : What exactly do you mean by inflammation?
Ans: Whenever any part of the body (i.e. tissue) is injured, it gets inflamed or manifests inflammation, this may be due to germs or bacteria (i.e. infection) or due to injury or trauma or due to many other causes. Any way, when a tissue is inflamed it manifests pain, swelling, redness, heat or fever and loss of function of the organ. In Arthritis, there is pain, redness, swelling of the joint with loss of movement.
Qs : So basically in Arthritis, the structure inside the joints are inflamed and in Rheumatism structures outside the joints are affected?
Ans: That’s right.
Qs : Doctor, Arthritis always affects the elderly, doesn’t it?
Ans: Yes, but children and young adults and middle-aged also suffer fairly commonly. Even infants may not be spared.
Qs : You mean even children can develop Arthritis?
Ans: Certainly yes. Rheumatic fever is still common in India. At first these children suffer from sore throat and then develop inflammation of the joints and also that of structures in the heart. Shakespeare has dramatized that Rheumatic Fever licks the joints but bites the heart! On the other hand, Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) is another crippling disease that children suffer from.
Qs : Is Arthritis hereditary?
Ans: Not really, certainly not the way diabetes runs in the family. However, a few families show unmistakable traits to develop arthritis based on their genetic make up.
Qs : Isn’t Arthritis incurable?
Ans: In many cases Arthritis is curable depending on the cause and the stage. Some types of Arthritis may not be totally curable but are certainly controllable. Hence treatment must be instituted. After all, diabetes and hypertension are also incurable, yet people take treatment for those diseases with a view to controlling them. So why neglect Arthritis?
Qs : And what if Arthritis is neglected?
Ans: Almost invariably, the patient will be crippled and become dependent on other human beings, even for activities of daily living (ADL). And may lose mobility and means of livelihood. Hence arthritis must be treated early enough.
Qs : What long does treatment go on?
Ans: Arthritis is a chronic disease and treatment is often long-term from weeks to months. Hence success of treatment depends on patient and family co-operation, and close follow-up and supervision. Early detection, better future.
Qs : How do you achieve this?
Ans: By three principles of treatment:
1. Physical methods, such as heat therapy by way of hot water bag, short wave Diathermy, infra red lamp.
2. By intelligent use of surgical operations, minor or major and appliances Eg. Kneecaps, splints, walking stick, walkers.
3. Drug therapy which is mainstay of Arthritis management.