Rheumatic diseases are autoimmune and inflammatory conditions that cause your immune system to attack your joints, muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments. These disorders are typically painful, chronic, and only worsen with time. Early diagnosis can lead to medical interventions than can slow progression of many rheumatic diseases.
Joint pain and swelling are the typical first symptoms of a rheumatic disease. What distinguishes rheumatic disease from other joint problems is that the pain is symmetrical – that is, if you’re experiencing pain at the wrists, you’ll feel it in both wrists. The pain can be severe enough to feel as if you may have broken a bone.
Rheumatic Diseases We Treat
There are more than 100 types of rheumatic diseases – the most common being arthritis and lupus. Among the many conditions our rheumatology specialists treat include:
An inflammatory condition that makes the small bones of your spine fuse together and stiffen, leading to reduced flexibility and, ultimately, a forward hunch. Symptoms usually begin in early adulthood – and in men more often than women. Anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy can often help a person regain flexibility. In rare cases, surgery may be necessary.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your joints. The hands, wrists, and knees are mostly commonly affected. In addition to pain and swelling, the affected joints may become deformed.
Psoriatic arthritis is another type of rheumatic disease – although its damage is due to inflammation that occurs in people with psoriasis, a skin condition.
Your treatment options will depend on the type of arthritis you have and the severity of your symptoms. Anti-inflammatory or immunosuppressant medications and steroid shots are common treatments. Joint replacement surgery may be recommended in extreme cases.
This rheumatic disorder causes pain throughout the body and can be notoriously difficult to diagnose and treat. In addition to widespread pain, patients with fibromyalgia may also be chronically fatigued. Treatment typically involves exercise, relaxation techniques, and medication.
Technically a type of arthritis, gout causes swelling and pain – most often in the joint of your big toe.
When properly treated – usually with corticosteroids and medicine to lower the level of uric acid in the body – acute cases of gout often resolve within 1-2 weeks.
This autoimmune disorder attacks tissue and organs throughout the body, including the joints, skin, lungs, eyes, and hair. This chronic condition can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms are similar to those for many other medical conditions and disorders. Lupus is typically treated with anti-malarial, anti-inflammatory, and immunosuppressant medications.
Believed to be due to a problem with the immune system, scleroderma causes the progressive hardening of skin and other connective tissue in the body. You may notice it as a tightening of the skin on the hands, or elsewhere on the body, as well as joint pain. Medication, physical therapy, and surgery are possible treatments.
With this autoimmune disorder, the glands that produce saliva and tears are mistakenly attacked by the body’s immune system, leading to dry mouth and dry eyes. It also commonly causes joint and muscle pain. Immunosuppressant medications and eye drops are typical treatment options.
Inflammation of the blood vessels – called vasculitis – is a type of autoimmune disorder. It leads to the hardening and thickening of artery or vein walls, restricting blood flow and leading to organ and tissue damage. Due to this restricted blood flow, joint and muscle pain are common symptoms of vasculitis. Medications such as anti-inflammatories and immunosuppressives are typical treatments.
Crohn’s disease (a type of inflammatory bowel disease) and osteoporosis (bone loss that results in weak, brittle bones) are not rheumatic diseases, but these conditions tend to occur in people with rheumatic disease.
Blood tests and diagnostic imaging may be used to help diagnose your condition.
Rheumatologist in Cullman, AL
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To find out more about our rheumatology services, call Cullman Primary Care Multi-Specialty Group in Cullman, Alabama, at (256) 736-2273 or request your appointment now.