Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
 

About Arthritis and Rheumatic Diseases

About Arthritis and Other Rheumatic Diseases

What is the difference between arthritis and other rheumatic diseases?

Arthritis, itself a group of more than 100 different diseases, is one category of rheumatic diseases. Rheumatic diseases may cause pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints and other supporting body structures, such as muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones. However, rheumatic diseases can affect other areas of the body, including internal organs. Some rheumatic diseases involve connective tissues (called connective tissue diseases), while others may be caused by an autoimmune disorder, which means the body's immune system attacks its own healthy cells and tissues.

Who treats arthritis and other rheumatic diseases?

Arthritis and other rheumatic diseases may be treated by your doctor and/or other medical specialists and health care providers. Several doctors from different medical specialties may be involved in the treatment at the same time. This multidisciplinary team approach is particularly important in managing the symptoms of a rheumatic disease, especially as many symptoms are chronic and change in severity over time.

Picture of a male physician smiling

Some of the more common medical professionals involved in the treatment of arthritis and other rheumatic diseases may include the following:

Who is affected by arthritis and other rheumatic diseases?

Prevalence of arthritis has been underestimated

One in five American adults has arthritis or chronic joint discomfort, according to a 2005 report from the CDC. The CDC found that nearly 47 million people per year have joint problems, which was previously estimated at 43 million people (including children). It also found that 19 million Americans had to limit their activities because of their discomfort. Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in America. CDC experts advise people not to ignore the pain and stiffness in their joints, since these symptoms can be treated.

Arthritis and rheumatic diseases can affect anyone, at any age, or of any race. However, certain diseases are more common in certain populations, including the following:

What causes arthritis and other rheumatic diseases?

The cause of most types of rheumatic diseases remains unknown and, in many cases, varies depending on the type of rheumatic disease present. However, researchers believe that some or all of the following may play a role in the development or aggravation of one or more types of rheumatic diseases:

What are the symptoms of arthritis and other rheumatic diseases?

The following are the most common symptoms of arthritis and other rheumatic diseases. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently, and different types of rheumatic diseases present different symptoms. In general, symptoms may include:

The symptoms of arthritis and other rheumatic diseases may resemble other medical conditions and problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

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