Rheumatism - A name for 400 diseases

Rheumatic diseases are usually chronic, painful and usually associated with a permanent restriction of movement. More than 450 diseases of very different causes belong to the rheumatic type. Between 200 and 400 diseases (depending on the classification) of the musculoskeletal system are summarized as rheumatism.

Types of rheumatism

The different classification is due to the non-uniform definition of the Department of Rheumatology (the medical specialty that deals with rheumatic diseases). The four or five main groups include:

  1. Degenerative diseases Wear on the various joints, as in osteoarthritis. These diseases account for about half of all rheumatic diseases and often occur on the hip joints, knee joints or shoulder. But also complaints of the Achilles tendon, tennis elbow or mouse arm and intervertebral disc damage belong to it.
  2. Soft tissue rheumatism Here are not affected the joints, but the "soft tissue" of the body. In addition to tendons and muscles, internal organs are often impaired as in fibromyalgia. This badly diagnosed type of diseases now accounts for almost 40% of rheumatic diseases.
  3. Inflammatory rheumatic diseases Here, the immune system goes crazy. It forms antibodies against the body's own components (autoimmune antibodies) - and the body reacts with inflammation. In rheumatoid arthritis, the articular skin is attacked by the wrists and ankles, in the ankylosing spondylitis the spinal joints, in psoriatic arthritis (joint inflammation in psoriasis) the finger or toe joints. Although these forms only 10% of rheumatic diseases, they often take a serious course. Joint inflammation in Crohn's disease, Lyme disease and Reiter's disease also belong to this group - as well as diseases of the connective tissue and the vessels such as lupus erythematosus, scleroderma, Sjögren's syndrome and polymyalgia rheumatica.
  4. Metabolic diseases with rheumatic complaints Also called pararheumatic diseases. These include gout, osteoporosis - which can occur in men as well as women - or rickets. The diseases have in common that changes in the bone or joint metabolism occur, leading to discomfort.
  5. Back complaints The Rheumatism League lists back problems (dorsopathies) as a separate group, so that five groups are distinguished.
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