The branch of medicine dedicated to researching and treating rheumatic diseases is known as Rheumatology, which primarily relates to autoimmune disorders. In this post, we’ll explore common rheumatic diseases, review the causes and symptoms, discuss the most frequently used treatments and share where to get help if you suffer from a rheumatic ailment.
What are some common rheumatic diseases and conditions?
The joints, muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments are most affected by rheumatic diseases. Though many simply think that all rheumatic issues fall under the umbrella of arthritis, that’s not necessarily the case. Here are some of the most well-known rheumatic diseases and their symptoms:
Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) usually shows up in young adults and is a progressive autoimmune condition. Lower back pain is often the earliest indicator of AS, but it can also materialize in the hips and ribs. If not treated in time, AS can cause spinal fusing. Many suffer for as long as eight years before a correct diagnosis is made.
Gout is a painful form of arthritis that typically surfaces in the feet. Most who are affected notice swelling and redness in their big toe, but it can be present in other joints.
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can impact joints, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin and blood vessels. In the most severe cases, it can also trigger widespread inflammation and result in tissue damage in the affected organ. Women are more likely to get Lupus and symptoms can range from skin rashes to fevers to fatigue in addition to the swelling of the joints.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and occurs mostly in the knees, hands and hips. It is caused by joint cartilage breaking down and changing the underlying bone over time. Common symptoms of osteoarthritis include stiffness in joints, aches, pains, swelling and a decrease in flexibility.
Osteoporosis is a bone disease caused by the body producing too little bone or losing too much of the bone that already exists. There is an increased likelihood of getting Osteoporosis if you have an autoimmune disorder like Lupus or Rheumatoid Arthritis. Brittle fingernails, a weakened grip, loss of height, bone pain and receding gums can all be early signs of Osteoporosis.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a disease where your immune system attacks its own body’s tissue. Symptoms that may indicate the presence of RA are swelling, pain and stiffness of the joints, weight loss, fever and fatigue.
Scleroderma is a chronic connective tissue disease also known as systematic sclerosis, which results in hardened, waxy skin. Joint pain, shiny and dark skin in certain areas, and thickening, swelling and numbing of fingers can all be symptoms of Scleroderma.
Sjogren’s Syndrome is an autoimmune system disorder that attacks the cells which produce tears and saliva. Symptoms in include dry mouth, fatigue, dry skin, rashes, joint pain, fatigue and swollen salivary glands.
How are rheumatic diseases treated?
Rheumatic disease treatment varies by ailment and may require a plan customized by a specialist to address the patient’s specific needs. Many rheumatic issues can be helped by diet, lifestyle and exercise modifications. Other common treatments include physical therapy, supportive devices (such as canes), natural remedies and medicines that are designed to suppress the immune system and surgery.
Rheumatology Care Center and Arthritis Clinic
Should you need assistance with any rheumatic disorder or would like to seek a diagnosis based on your symptoms, Western Washington Medical Group has experts available to help. Our Rheumatology Care Center in North Everett is staffed by Dr. Andrew Sohn and our Arthritis Clinic in Bothell is staffed by Dr. Richard A. H. Jimenez, Dr. Jeff R. Peterson, Dr. Andrew Keith Solomon and Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner, Corinne Spero. Call the numbers listed on the web page of either clinic to request an appointment or learn more about the services offered.