Rheuma is a term that is widely heard and used. We have all heard that “I was always with a lot of pains in my joints, I suffered from rheumatism.” The word rheuma is not strictly a medical term nor refers to a specific disease. Rheuma refers to “rheumatic disease”. When we talk about rheumatic disease we are actually talking about a lot of different diseases but, why then does the saying “I have rheumatism” become popular?
There is some wisdom in the simplification of this group of diseases in the word rheuma, which in the street refers to diseases that we call “inflammatory.” These diseases have many things in common. They are diseases that, among other things, affect the joints of the body but for causes very different from the ailments we all know.
Most joint pains have a mechanical explanation, that is, the wear and tear that they undergo in our daily lives. In the back can produce a hernia after a bad effort or we can have “artrosis” due to the continuous wear of the joints. These ailments sound to us all. But when we talk about rheumatism we are talking about something completely different.
Inflammatory rheumatic diseases are diseases that affect the whole organism although what is most evident, often, are the ailments that occurs at the level of joints and soft tissues (tendons, muscles, etc.). They are diseases that produce inflammation and pain without having a mechanical or traumatic cause. The most common cause is related to immunity. There are alterations of our immunity that cause our own defenses to alter our well-being. Immunity can be altered for many reasons, such as side effects of a drug or infection with a virus, although most of them are unknown or attributed to genetic disorders. In the back the best known is the ankylosing spondylitis that we will discuss in future posts.
These diseases have a different origin and also a different treatment. Be careful with the use and what we mean by the term rheuma. On the one hand there will be people who will call rheuma to any ailments of the joints. On the other hand, there are people with diseases that are diagnosed for not going to the doctor. When we have a disease in our bones, muscles and joints the most sensible is to go to the Primary Care Physician to guide us in the diagnosis and the measures to be taken. Many times with simple questions you can differentiate banal pains from more relevant diseases that need medical care.
As we have commented, the important thing is to be valued by our doctor, we must flee from the self-diagnostics; but we are going to comment some data that can make us suspect that our disease is of rheumatic origin:
– Have inflammation in more than one joint.
– Get up in the morning with rigidity and difficulty to move these joints and above all take more than half an hour to move with certain normality.
– Notice a lot of heat, swelling and redness in the skin surrounding the joint.
– The pain not only does not improve with the rest but it gets worse, reason why we are better with the activity.
– It awakens the pain at night or makes it difficult to sleep.