Rheumatology is the study of a number of diseases which affect the bones, joints and muscles, including arthritis, bursitis, sclerosis, osteoporosis and fibromyalgia. Arthritis is simply an inflammation of the joints, and takes many forms. Juvenile arthritis affects children, often painfully, while polyarthritis (the inflammation of several joints) develops in many adults as they age, and is also known as osteoarthritis, or the breakdown of cartilage around bones in the knees, hands and feet.
Ankylosing spondylitis affects the spine and sacroiliac areas of the back, and is extremely painful. Gout is a painful inflammation of the joints, while bursitis is inflammation in the pockets of fluid within certain parts of the body, particularly the shoulders, elbows and knees.
Fibromyalgia is a degenerative disease which causes muscle, bone and joint pain, fatigue and many other symptoms, and has been connected to genetics, although this hasn’t been conclusively proven. Lupus and Lyme disease are also degenerative diseases. These disorders may be treated with changes in diet and exercise, as well as corticosteroids and pain management drugs.
The field of rheumatology is an extensive one that encompasses a number of conditions and disorders. You might make an appointment if you have a common disease like gout, bursitis or arthritis. Rheumatologists also work with some lesser known conditions, like sponsylitis, ankylosing and henoch. This specialist deals with autoimmune disorders like fibromyalgia, sclerosis and lupus.
This article provides an overview of rheumatology, including brief descriptions of some of the most common types of disorders rheumatologists typically treat. Rheumatology is a specialty field that requires four years of medical school, three years of training in internal medicine or pediatrics, and another two to three years specilaizing in rheumatology or endocrinology. Rheumatology doctors often work with other physicians or health care providers in coordinating a treatment for a specific condition.
Because chronic pain can be a common symptom of a rheumatology condition, like osteoarthritis and polyarthritis when joints become inflamed, these doctors often administer cortisone injections and prescribe other types of pain relieving treatment. Many of the disorders that fall under the umbrella of rheumatology, including arthritis, lupus and osteoporosis, are chronic in nature. Chronic disorders mean that there is no cure. Treatmebnt is primarily focused on dealing with symptoms as they develop.
Other rheumatology diseases, like gout and bursitis, can be thoroughly treated. Many patients enter a rheumatology office when they develop severe, ongoing pain from inflamed joints or muscles. The diseases are often complex to diagnose and may take some time to identify. Once the disorder is correctly named, the rheumatology doctor can work with the patient to come up with an effective treatment plan.
Receiving a diagnosis of a disease which affects the joints can be devastating. Rheumatoid ailments affect not only adults, but juveniles as well. In order to have a better, more comprehensive understanding of joint diseases whether pediatric or adult, we must first understand the terminology associated with these ailments. Below are several popular terms to know when talking to your doctor about one’s diagnosis.
- Rheumatology – Rheumatology is the branch of adult or pediatric medicine in which, doctors focus on the study and research of rheumatic diseases. These ailments can range from lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, to fibromyalgia and osteoporosis.
- Endocrinology – The branch of adult or pediatric medicine which focuses on the endocrine systems and its secretions.
- Lupus – One of several diseases which typically affect the skin, causing lesions. Systemic Lupus can also affect the joints as well as other systems of the body.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis – A chronic autoimmune disease typically characterized by inflammation and swelling of the joints. This inflammation eventually causes deformities in conjunction with severe pain and chronic stiffness.
- Fibromyalgia – A rheumatoid syndrome wherein fatigue and debilitating headaches accompany severe joint and muscle pain.
- Osteoporosis – A disorder in which the bones become porous and brittle. This may result in skeletal deformities, loss of height and frequent fractures. Calcium deficiency is usually the primary factor which causes osteoporosis.
- Osteoarthritis – A chronic breakdown of the cartilage between the joints such as the knees, hands and hips. This breakdown results in joint pain, swelling and stiffness, and is a common ailment occurring sometime during or after middle age.
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