The word Rheumatism is no longer used frequently in the medical fraternity since there is no recognized disease that goes by this name. It is a non specific term used to describe diseases related to joints and connective tissues.
Rheumatism may also involve other internal body parts such as lungs, kidneys, skin and heart. About 100 or more medical conditions are classified as rheumatism. There are three major types of diseases which are popularly known as Rheumatic diseases:
- Soft tissue rheumatism.
- Inflammatory arthritis.
Acute rheumatism is generally characterized by pain, intense soreness and fever. In severe cases, the affected area becomes extremely sensitive. Even if you put bed clothing on the affected body part, it aggravates the pain. The disease may even turn chronic if not treated properly. The patients of chronic muscular rheumatism suffer from stiffness and pain in the affected muscles. The patients suffering from chronic articular rheumatism suffer from swelling, stiffness and pain in one or more joints of the body.
If you are still wondering whether you have rheumatism or not, these questions may help:
- Is there some pain in your joints or other area of your body?
- Is your pain chronic?
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If the answer is yes, itís time you looked for help. Even if you have decided to live with it, the pain is not going to get any better. Rheumatoid arthritis patients are one such example in which the pain starts from one joint and goes on to disable you completely. If you donít go for treatment, youíll be facing constant problems due to the disease.
To diagnose rheumatism, the doctor reviews your symptom history, examines your joints and skin and gets some blood and X-ray tests done. The diagnosis is based on symptom pattern, distribution of affected joints, and blood test and X-ray results.
In Rheumatic fever or acute rheumatism, apart from symptoms mentioned earlier, the patients also suffer from inflammation of heart valves and pericardium. It is a disease normally faced by those going through childhood or early adult life. It is now being recognized that rheumatism is an infective disease caused by micro-organism. Researchers, however, still differ on what kind of micro-organism causes it. The disease starts with a feeling of chilliness, after which the patient experience stiffness and pain in one or more joints. Initially only one or two joints are affected whereas later all other joints also get affected.
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Rheumatism arthritis affects different patients differently. Some patients experience gradual onset of disease whereas in other people the condition may worsen quickly. The symptoms of Rheumatism may ease or reduce after some time either due to medication or some times without any reason whatsoever.
When the disease attacks, we think of it mostly in terms of joint pain. But, the inflammation can also affect throat or mouth, and lungs, making breathing difficult. Although we have seen substantial progress in treatment of Rheumatism, the doctors are still not sure how to provide effective and efficient treatment to Rheumatism patients.
Article published January 27th, 2010
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