What are the types of Rheumatological diseases?
Under the umbrella term ‘arthritis’, there are over 30 inflammatory rheumatic conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, gout, scleroderma, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, spondylarthritides, polymyalgia rheumatica, and several forms of systemic vasculitis (including giant cell arteritis). It also includes the most common form of arthritis, known as osteoarthritis, which results in a breakdown of bone and cartilage in joints due to over use.
Who is a Rheumatologist?
Rheumatologists are responsible for diagnosing and treating over 200 rheumatic conditions with complex and powerful medications and need the care of experts such as rheumatologists who specialize in the use and management of these medications.
How can Rheumatic conditions affect you?
Rheumatic conditions have tremendous impact on the health and well-being of several million people in India and worldwide.
Contrary to notions that “aches and pains” are just a normal part of ageing, the intense joint pain, swelling, stiffness and fatigue experienced by people with rheumatic conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, often occur in people who are young and often abruptly interrupt education, careers, parenting, and other essential daily activities.
What age does Rheumatological problems affect?
75% of patients diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis are at working age and most lupus patients develop the condition between the ages of 15-44.
Why is it important for working people to see a rheumatologist?
Rheumatic conditions can cause deformities so severe that those who suffer from them cannot bathe or dress themselves. Rheumatic conditions can cause damage to vital organs, including the lungs, heart, nervous system, kidneys, skin, and eyes.
Disability is even higher among patients with inadequately treated rheumatoid arthritis, with four out of ten losing their jobs within five years. 20% of people with rheumatic conditions were forced to change career as a result.
Is there treatment for auto immune rheumatic diseases?
Yes, surely. Fortunately, if timely recognised and treated adequately, these diseases can be very well controlled to normalcy. But treatment cannot be stopped soon after disease control. Newer treatments like biologic agents could be used to control severe disease in an effective way. It is very important that treatment for these diseases are started by a rheumatologist who has an indepth knowledge of immunological diseases.
What is the cost of poorly treated rheumatic conditions?
With the amount of working days lost due to musculoskeletal conditions, it is estimated that, if poorly managed, chronic diseases, including rheumatic conditions, can account for as much as 70% of health expenditure. Many patients suffering with rheumatic conditions need a carer to help them accomplish everyday tasks such as cooking or even brushing their hair.
What organs other than joints can be affected by rheumatic conditions?
HeartPeople with rheumatoid arthritis are twice as likely to develop heart conditions than the average person. Lupus greatly increases a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular conditions and suffering from heart attacks. Rheumatic conditions include inflammation of the lining around the heart, causing a build-up of fluid leading to heart failure, and abnormal heart rhythms.
EyesMore severe eye complications can lead to decreased or complete loss of vision.
One in ten people with rheumatoid arthritis will develop serious lung complications over the course of their conditions due to damage to the lung tissue. People with scleroderma can develop scarring of the lungs that can lead to life-threatening breathing complications.
KidneyPeople with arthritis can develop kidney problems either due to diseases or due to the treatement. Kidney related problem can be identified only by rheumatologist. Also kidney related problems can be detected early only if urine examination is carried out.
NervesStrokes are also more frequent in patients suffering from several of the rheumatic conditions including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and giant cell arteritis.
BloodAnemia is a common symptom of most rheumatic conditions including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and vasculitis.
Blood vesselsScleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus can cause Raynaud’s syndrome – a cold-induced narrowing of the blood vessels in the fingers and toes that may lead to painful ulcerations and even gangrene.
SkinPsoriatic arthritis is a particular type of rheumatic condition that occurs in some patients who have psoriasis. Scleroderma causes hardening of skin.
Can I lead a normal life?
Yes surely. With treatment most rheumatic diseases come under control. Regular physical exercises are needed.
What should I avoid?
Avoid consumption of saturated fats, refined sugars, excess carbohydrates, redmeat, processed food, excess alcohol and smoking or any form of tobacco consumption.