Health Tips from a Mother of Three

4 Kinds Of Rheumatic Diseases

Rheumatic diseases are inflammatory conditions that affect the body's joints, muscles, and bones. Rheumatic diseases are also considered autoimmune disorders, which means the immune system attacks certain parts of the body. Common symptoms associated with rheumatic diseases include joint pain, fatigue, and hair loss. If you experience any of these symptoms, your physician may refer you to a rheumatologist, which is a doctor that specializes in rheumatic diseases.

Here are four kinds of rheumatic diseases that a rheumatologist can diagnose and treat.

1. Ankylosing Spondylitis

This rheumatic disease causes the vertebrae in the spine to become fused together. People who have ankylosing spondylitis have a posture in which they are hunched forward. When this hunched-forward posture affects the ribs, it makes it hard to breathe.

Pain in the lower back and hips is usually the first sign of this condition. A rheumatologist may recommend physical therapy to manage the pain and stiffness associated with this condition. Maintaining an active lifestyle and practicing good posture can also help.

2. Gout

This rheumatic disease is a form of arthritis that affects the joints. If you have a sudden bout of pain and tenderness, especially in the big toe, you may have gout. You might also experience redness in the big toe or the affected joint. This rheumatic disease is caused by a buildup of urate crystals in the joint.

After a rheumatologist diagnoses you with gout, they may recommend anti-inflammatory prescription drugs, as well as medications that either block the production of uric acid or help to remove uric acid from the blood.

3. Osteoarthritis

When the cartilage between joints breaks down, it results in a rheumatic disease called osteoarthritis. This condition can affect any joint in the body, but it most commonly affects the knees, hips, hands, and spine.

Severe osteoarthritis can cause a loss of range of motion as well as joint instability. If a rheumatologist diagnoses you with osteoarthritis, they may recommend over-the-counter pain medications, exercises to strengthen the muscles around the joints, and hot and cold therapy.

4. Scleroderma

When there is too much collagen in the skin, it results in a rheumatic disease called scleroderma. Collagen is a protein in the body's connective tissues. When there is too much collagen, it causes the skin to harden. Besides the skin, scleroderma can affect the joints and blood vessels.

This condition can also cause complications with the digestive system, teeth, heart, lungs, and fingertips. If you receive a diagnosis of scleroderma, a rheumatologist may recommend medications to suppress the immune system as well as physical therapy to help manage the pain.

Contact a clinic like Sarasota Arthritis Center to learn more.