Is it rheumatism?
Rheumatism is an umbrella term for more than 100 diseases. The German Rheumatism League has guides to many clinical pictures. Information material published.
Rheumatism is an umbrella term for more than 100 different diseases. They all manifest themselves in chronic pain, but can affect very different parts of the body.
Pouring a cup of coffee in the morning after getting up with stiff joints, working during the day with aching bones, muscles and tendons: 25 percent of the German adult population know these complaints. Restrictions often pass. Different for seventeen million people affected – among them not only the elderly, but also children and teenagers. You have chronic complaints of the musculoskeletal system: Rheumatism or, in technical terms, "rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases".
What is rheumatism?
But what is rheumatism? Behind the term are more than 100 diseases. They can be divided into four main groups.
1. Inflammatory rheumatic diseases
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is one of the most common forms of this main group – an inflammation of the joints that is permanent (chronic). The disease usually begins insidiously: At first, the joints of the little fingers and toes are often affected. They feel overheated, swell, ache and are stiff. It is usually particularly bad in the morning. Many of those affected can then hardly turn on the tap in the bathroom. Rheumatoid arthritis is suspected if morning stiffness persists for more than 60 minutes and more than two joints are swollen.
The cause of inflammatory rheumatic diseases: The immune system attacks its own body – joints and tendons, skin and other body ties, sometimes even internal organs. The most common forms of the disease include:
It is important to act quickly. Because, inflammatory rheumatic diseases otherwise cause irreparable damage.
Coronavirus and rheumatism
Important information on this topic can be found in our text "Coronavirus: Information for people with rheumatism".
2. Degenerative rheumatic diseases
Articular cartilage or spine are damaged or pathologically altered. Patients complain of pain. Movement restrictions. The arthroses are the most frequent chronic joint diseases. The cartilage in the knee, hip, fingers or toes is usually damaged over a large area.
The joints of the spine can also be affected. Those affected often feel so-called start-up pain – for example, when they get out of bed or get out of the car. You must first "break in". In contrast to inflammatory rheumatic diseases, the pain is less perceptible during periods of rest without exertion.
3. Chronic pain syndromes of the musculoskeletal system
Chronic back pain falls into this group and is one of the most frequent causes of treatment. It increases with age and reaches its peak in the age group of 70 and older. The famous tennis elbow or carpal tunnel syndrome also belong to this group. Soft tie and muscles, tendon insertions and tendon sheaths, as well as the bursa, are irritated and painful – usually only in one region of the body and usually due to overload.
Chronic pain syndromes also include fibromyalgia. It is a chronic pain disease that causes widespread pain in muscles and bones and is associated with other symptoms such as fatigue and sleep disturbances.
4. Metabolic diseases with rheumatic complaints
Metabolic diseases with rheumatic symptoms include osteoporosis – a disease that can be a consequence of inflammatory rheumatism. In osteoporosis – also known as bone loss – the bone metabolism is disturbed. Bones become susceptible to fractures. The vertebral bodies of the lower back and thoracic spine as well as the bones of the forearm and neck of the femur are particularly affected. Osteoporosis itself does not cause any complaints, but bone fractures do. When vertebrae are fractured, the deformed bones can lead to permanent pain. Often a hunchback develops, which restricts the freedom of movement.
Another metabolic disease with rheumatic complaints is gout. The uric acid or purine metabolism is disturbed in those affected. This causes an excess of uric acid in the body. Typically, gout attacks occur – sudden, severe pain in a joint with swelling, redness and overheating. The big toe is usually affected first.
Rheumatic diseases: Time is remission
At present, only a few rheumatism sufferers in Germany achieve remission. Professor Christoph Fiehn explains why this is the case.
Therapy of rheumatic diseases
The sooner rheumatism is recognized and treated, the better the chances of successful therapy. A prerequisite for this is a fast. Clear diagnosis. Rheumatologists, facilities and physicians can be found via the care map of the German Rheumatism League.
A comprehensive rheumatism therapy includes several components:
– Physiotherapy – Ergotherapy – If necessary, a pain therapy is added. Other building blocks like nutrition. Rehabilitation can complement the treatment concept.
Brochure: Rheumatism – react in time
In order to prevent irreversible damage, it is important that those affected start therapy quickly. The brochure encourages people to face up to the disease. It gives advice and help for a life with rheumatism.