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  • Writer's pictureJessica Frizzell, PA-C

Rheumatic Diseases: Names, Symptoms, and Treatment

Updated: Jul 6, 2022

What do you know about rheumatic diseases? Autoimmune diseases? Inflammatory diseases?

Many signs and symptoms of these types of diseases can overlap, especially in the beginning stages during the original onset. This can make the diagnosis process quite the challenge. Two patients can experience similar symptoms, yet have different conditions that need specific treatment and care.

The Mayo Clinic explains: “Rheumatic diseases are autoimmune and inflammatory diseases that cause your immune system to attack your joints, muscles, bones and organs. Rheumatic diseases are often grouped under the term ‘arthritis’ — which is used to describe over 100 diseases and conditions. This does not include the most common form of arthritis, known as osteoarthritis, which results in a breakdown of bone and cartilage in joints rather than inflammation.”

When your body’s natural defense system turns on itself, normal and healthy cells are perceived as foreigners. Your body attacks its own cells mistakenly, which produces an inflammatory response and leads to various symptoms - symptoms that can impact almost any area or system of the body.

Autoimmune diseases know no limits and can affect:

  • the endocrine system

  • the central nervous system

  • the gastrointestinal tract

  • the circulatory system

  • the musculoskeletal system

  • eyes and ears

  • skin and hair

  • teeth

The National Library of Medicine states: “The blood cells in the body's immune system help protect against harmful substances. Examples include bacteria, viruses, toxins, cancer cells, and blood and tissue from outside the body. These substances contain antigens. The immune system produces antibodies against these antigens that enable it to destroy these harmful substances.

When you have an autoimmune disorder, your immune system does not distinguish between healthy tissue and potentially harmful antigens. As a result, the body sets off a reaction that destroys normal tissues.”

What are the different types of autoimmune rheumatic diseases (known as ARDs) that can create such an effect? Here’s a list of some common and not-so-common conditions:

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)

  • Sjὅgren’s Syndrome

  • Scleroderma/Systemic Sclerosis

  • Psoriatic Arthritis/Psoriasis

  • Reactive Arthritis

  • Dermatomyositis/Polymyositis

  • Ankylosing Spondylitis

  • Microscopic Polyangiitis

  • Churg-Strauss Syndrome

  • Behcet’s Syndrome

  • Gout/Pseudogout

  • Henoch-Scholein Purpura

  • Polymyalgia Rheumatica

  • Temporal Arteritis/Giant Cell Arteritis

  • Takayasu Arteritis

An overwhelming amount of these diseases present arthritis-like symptoms that impact the joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, soft tissues, and bones. Many patients experience:

  • joint stiffness

  • joint pain

  • joint swelling

  • joint inflammation

  • joint warmth

  • joint redness

  • joint tenderness

ARD symptoms are not limited to just the joints, though. Many patients also experience:

  • muscle weakness/fatigue

  • weight loss/weight gain/digestive issues

  • hair loss/brittle hair

  • fever/headache

  • eye dryness, soreness, redness, burning

  • skin rashes, blisters, lesions, thickening

  • nerve pain, tingling, sensitivity

Autoimmune diseases are relentless and can really wreak havoc on your body without proper and prompt treatment. If you suspect you have an autoimmune disease (or already have been diagnosed with one), seeking the care of a rheumatologist is extremely important.

At Paducah Rheumatology, we get to know each one of our patients in order to provide personalized care and create individualized treatment plans.

We understand that every patient is unique.

Autoimmune diseases impact each individual in particular ways, and two patients diagnosed with the same condition will not have the same outcome.

That’s why we support a wide range of treatments designed to meet YOUR specific needs. From diet and lifestyle changes to medication and therapy options, we strive to find the right regime to help you feel your best.

We care about your health! We care about your quality of life!

We will help you determine if you have a rheumatic disease and work hard to provide solutions if you do.

Give us a call today at 270-408-6100. We’re now accepting new patients with a physician’s referral.

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