What are rheumatic diseases?

Among the underlying causes of rheumatic diseases, there may be genetic factors as well as different factors such as smoking, environmental pollution or infections. Musculoskeletal diseases are commonly known as rheumatic diseases. There are many subtypes of these diseases. Common symptoms include joint pain, stiffness, burning and redness in the joints.

What are the Subtypes of Musculoskeletal Diseases?

There are more than 200 subtypes of musculoskeletal diseases. The most common ones are:
Osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease due to wear and tear)
· Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
Lupus (involves many organ systems in the body)
· Ankylosing spondylitis (for detailed information, see Ankylosing spondylitis)
Psoriatic arthritis (develops as a result of psoriasis affecting the joints)
· Good
Septic arthritis (joint disease caused by germs)
Childhood rheumatism (juvenile idiopathic arthritis)

Rheumatic Pains

Rheumatic pains occur in the muscles. Arthritis pain is the name given to pain originating from the joints. Rheumatic diseases are the common name for both joint (arthritis) and muscle (soft tissue) diseases. Rheumatic pains are often the precursors of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout and soft tissue rheumatism. These pains are usually harsh, aching, and uncomfortable. They reduce the patient’s quality of life.

What are the Symptoms of Rheumatic Disease?

Rheumatic diseases have many different subtypes. Therefore, they may occur with different complaints and symptoms. Inflammation in the joints is one of the most obvious findings. These inflammations in the joints are called arthritis and are the most prominent finding of musculoskeletal diseases. In addition to arthritis, symptoms such as fever, muscle aches and fatigue are also symptoms of rheumatic diseases.

What are the Early and Important Findings of Rheumatic Diseases?

Joint pain is the most common symptom of rheumatic diseases. Situations where these pains are a sign of rheumatic disease:
Joint pain and stiffness felt intensely in the morning,
Pain and stiffness, especially in the joints of the hands and feet, which increase with inactivity,
Low back pain felt intensely in the morning.

What Are Other Findings of Rheumatic Diseases?

In addition to the most common joint pain, rheumatic diseases show the following symptoms:
Pain in the same joints on both sides of the body (for example, in both wrists or both knees),
Problems in organs such as eyes or lungs,
stiffness in the joints,
· Weakness,
· Hair loss,
Sensitivity to sunlight
Hands that turn white and purple in cold,
Low back pain that progresses to the spine,
· Muscle pains,
· Rashes on the skin,
Pain that decreases with physical activity and movement,
Eye and mouth dryness,
Eye burning and redness,
· Sudden attacks of joint pain, especially at night.

In Which Age Range Are Rheumatic Diseases Most Common?

Rheumatic diseases are not only seen in the elderly, as is generally thought. Again, contrary to the general belief, it is not seen only in women. There are also rheumatic diseases that are frequently encountered in men. E.g; Lupus is a disease that affects men as well as women. A significant proportion of rheumatic diseases occur between the ages of 20 and 50.
As there are rheumatic diseases seen in advanced ages, there are also types seen in childhood. Any complaints and symptoms pointing to rheumatic diseases that start at a young age should be considered important and a rheumatology specialist should be consulted without delay.

What are the Examination and Applications in Rheumatological Diseases?

A single test or method is not sufficient in the diagnosis of rheumatic diseases. In the diagnosis of rheumatic diseases, routine blood tests and imaging tests are often used in addition to physical examination. In addition to blood tests, antibody tests, which are defined as specific to each disease, are also frequently applied. With these tests, the antibodies produced by the body’s immune system against its own cells are examined and the diagnosis of rheumatic disease is made.
Genetic analyzes are used in cases caused by genetic factors. The damaged area can be scanned with advanced imaging methods. Imaging methods include plain radiographs, ultrasonography, scanning with magnetic resonance devices. Again, when necessary, joint fluid (synovial fluid) is taken from the joints and examined under a microscope. In order to make the diagnosis, a biopsy can be taken from the skin, salivary gland and tissues such as nerves.

What Should be the Purpose of the Treatment of Rheumatic Diseases?

Although some of the inflammatory rheumatic diseases heal completely, most of them can progress with recovery and exacerbations. The aim of treatment is usually to manage the disease well enough to preserve the quality of life.
Generally, a treatment plan is aimed at relieving the symptoms of the disease, preventing the progression of the disease and its additional involvements, improving the physical and psychological condition of the patient, and increasing the quality of life. Treatment is therefore often long-term. In some cases, it can last a lifetime. For this reason, compliance in the treatment management of the patient and the specialist physician in the follow-up and maintenance of the treatment is very important.

What are the Innovations in the Treatment of Rheumatic Diseases?

Drug therapy, physical therapy and surgery are the three main methods used in the treatment of rheumatic diseases.
The drugs traditionally used in the treatment of rheumatic diseases are mainly:
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs with anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties
Anti-joint damage and anti-inflammatory steroids (such as cortisol)
Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs that prevent and slow damage.
Successful results are obtained with new biological treatments in patients in whom these basic antirheumatic drugs, which are frequently used today, are insufficient. Biological therapies are drugs to manage the body’s response to prevent damage to the joint and muscle tissues of the body.
This treatment method, like other methods, requires follow-up by a specialist doctor. The application can be in the form of a subcutaneous injection to the patient at home. In some cases, it can also be applied in the form of serum therapy in an outpatient treatment unit in a hospital setting.
In addition to drug treatment, another method used to reduce the patient’s complaints is physical therapy. With this method, physical activities that will enable the patient to move more comfortably in daily life are recommended. With these exercises, it is aimed to reduce the complaints in the joints or pain areas.
In cases where the drugs are not sufficient, do not regress the disease and do not relieve the pain, the physician may recommend a surgical operation. With these operations, it is possible to repair the tendons around the damaged joint. In addition, from the damaged area; Treatment can be provided by taking joint fluid from the hip, knee, elbow, wrist or fingers. Replacing the damaged joint with a prosthesis or in cases where this is not possible, joint fixation surgeries can also be used as treatment methods.
Early diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic diseases like all other diseases; It is important in the management of the disease, regression and alleviation of symptoms. It is possible to prevent joint disorders and injuries that may develop with early and appropriate treatment. In diseases that spread throughout the body and show systemic involvement, early diagnosis and treatment of the disease are aimed directly at prolonging the survival time.
Rheumatic pains can be seen in individuals of all ages. Evaluation of one or more symptoms by a specialist rheumatologist as soon as possible without ignoring them is very important for the management of the disease and improving the quality of life.
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