“Rheumatism” or “arthritis” are general terms that mean “joint’s disease”, so they mean any disease that affects the joints, however many people associate them with the “old age” rheumatism, which is called osteoarthritis or the “tear and wear” arthritis, and this form of rheumatism is widespread because it will basically affect everyone after certain age, usually starting around the age of forty but it is only a small portion of “rheumatism”.
The more important form of “rheumatism” is the inflammatory “rheumatism” or inflammatory “arthritis”, which is a large group of different types of arthritis that has the main characteristic of inflammation of joints, usually due to autoimmune process.
Inflammation is usually a good normal process that the body uses to fight infections, but when it occurs without infection and in an uncontrolled fashion it becomes harmful rather than helpful, and that is what happens in inflammatory arthritis.
This group is very important because it affect younger patients, often starting in their twenties though it can affect even children but much less frequently. The reason this group is important is that if diagnosed early and proper treatment started promptly then we can protect the patient from potentially disabling effects of the arthritis.
Below is a list of some diseases that fall under the general term “rheumatism”:
Rheumatoid arthritis (the “prototype” of inflammatory arthritis)
Spondyloarthritis (a common but under-diagnosed arthritis, that affects mainly the lower back in young adults), and there are several types of arthritis that fall under this category, like psoriatic arthritis, and arthritis associated with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (an autoimmune inflammatory condition that involves several systems)
Osteoarthritis (the tear and wear arthritis)
Osteoporosis (weak bones) and Vitamin D deficiency.
Gout (uric acid arthritis)
Psoriatic arthritis (the arthritis that can be associated with psoriasis in some patients)
Vasculitis (an uncommon group of diseases that attack the blood vessels)
Sjogren’s Syndrome (an inflammatory disease that attacks the glands that secretes tears and saliva, but can affects the joints also)
Scleroderma ((inflammatory disease of the skin)
Polymyositis (inflammatory disease of the muscles)
Children arthritis (like Pauciarticular or Polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis, or systemic onset JIA also called Still’s disease)