What is “Rheumatism” or "arthritis"?

​“Rheumatism” or "arthritis" are general terms that mean “joint’s disease”, so they mean any disease that affect 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 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, and they tend to affect younger patients and can cause significant disability if not diagnosed and treated early.

Is there treatment for “rheumatism”?

​​A common misconception (even among some doctors of other specialties) is that “there is no good treatment for rheumatism”, while in reality we have very effective treatment for most types of joints’ diseases, and we can achieve remission in most cases with the different types of treatments we have now, however it is usually long-term treatment similar to other chronic diseases such as hypertension or sugar. One important point is that it is crucial to start treatment early in the disease course, because the earlier we start treatment the better the response we get and less damage sustained by the joints.

Do you need a rheumatologist or an orthopedic surgeon?

​​​Many people are not clear what the difference is, in short: orthopedic surgeon or the "bone doctor" deals with mechanical problems of the bones and joints, like fixing a fractured bone whether by a cast or surgery, and they treat joints that requires procedures like an arthroscopy or replacement, while the rheumatologist or "arthritis doctor" or "joints doctor" deals with all other non-surgical problems or "arthritis" affecting the joints, muscles, or tendons, like gout , rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus, or affecting bones like osteoporosis, and vitamin D deficiency.

In summary, if the pain is due to injury, then the patient needs to be seen by an orthopedic surgeon first, otherwise the patient needs to be seen by a rheumatologist first.

The “internet” and your health...!!!

We live in the digital age and the “explosion of information”, and while that can be very helpful it can also have negative effects since medical information can be difficult to understand and can be misunderstood even among the medical professionals of different specialties.

There are a lot of sites that offer inaccurate health information, and in my clinic I have seen some patients who were very concerned because of some misleading information they found on the net and they thought they had a serious disease only to find out that it was a minor problem, on the other hand, some patients came late to seek treatment with serious complications because they followed some unwise advice found on some sites.

If you suspect you have a rheumatic problem, the best way would be to speak to a well-qualified rheumatologist to get the right answers and proper advice.

Need to be seen?