Rheumatism or Rheumatic Disorder is the general name or umbrella term used all those conditions and ailments that cause chronic, intermittent pain in the joints and connective tissues. Some diseases caused by rheumatic disorders, like osteoarthritis, are the result of wear and tear. Others, such as rheumatoid arthritis, are immune system problems.
The term “rheumatism” was coined after the chronic pain in the joints was attributed to excessive flow of “rheum” or body fluids.
There are a few types of rheumatoid diseases. These are enumerated below:
1) Ankylosing Sponylitis
3) Sjogren’s Syndrome
Each of these diseases are explained in detail.
A) Ankylosing Sponylitis
It is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease of the axial skeleton, with variable involvement of peripheral joints and nonarticular structures. It mainly affects joints in the spine and the sacroiliac joint in the pelvis. In severe cases, complete fusion and rigidity of the spine can occur. “Bamboo spine” develops when the outer fibers of the fibrous ring of the Intervertebral discs ossify, which results in the formation of marginal syndesmophytes (bony growth) between adjoining vertebrae.
The symptoms for this condition appear gradually. Their peak onset is around 20-30 years of age. Some of the initial symptoms are chronic dull pain in the lower back or gluteal region. There can also be stiffness in the lower back. This pain and stiffness is generally aggravated in the morning which can wake the person up abruptly.
As the disease progresses, loss of spinal mobility and chest expansion, with limitation of anterior flexion, lateral flexion, and extension of the lumbar spine, are seen.
Systemic features are common, with weight loss, fever, or fatigue often present. Pain is often severe at rest, but improves with physical activity. However, many experience inflammation and pain to varying degrees regardless of rest and movement.
No specific test exists for diagnosing this. There are however various techniques which can help in studying the characteristics of the spine. Some of the methods are as follows:
An X-ray can easily show what the extent of erosion and sclerosis in the spine. Progression of the erosion leads to pseudo widening of the joint space and bony ankylosis. X-ray spine can reveal squaring of vertebrae with spine ossification with fibrous band run longitudinally called syndesmophyte while produce bamboo spine appearance.
2) Blood Test
During severe inflammatry periods, people suffering from Ankylosing spondylitis show increase in the blood concentration of C-reactive protein. This is however, not true in all of the cases so this is not foolproof method.
The Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Index (BASDAI), developed in Bath (UK), is an index designed to detect the inflammatory burden of active disease. The BASDAI can help to establish a diagnosis of Ankylosing Sponylitis in the presence of other factors such as HLA-B27 positivity, persistent buttock pain which resolves with exercise, and X-ray or MRI evident involvement of the sacroiliac joints.
This is the most common type of arthritis that affects millions of people in the world. It occurs when the protective cartilage on the ends of bones wears down over time. Although osteoarthritis can damage any joint in your body, the disorder most commonly affects joints in your hands, knees, hips and spine. Osteoarthritis often gradually worsens, and no cure exists. But staying active, maintaining a healthy weight and other treatments may slow progression of the disease and help improve pain and joint function.
The symptoms of Orthoarthritis are as follows:
1) Pain Your joint may hurt during or after movement.
2) Tenderness Your joint may feel tender when you apply light pressure to it.
3) Stiffness Joint stiffness may be most noticeable when you wake up in the morning or after a period of inactivity.
4) Loss of flexibility You may not be able to move your joint through its full range of motion.
5) Grating sensation You may hear or feel a grating sensation when you use the joint.
Bone spurs. These extra bits of bone, which feel like hard lumps, may form around the affected joint.
Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that cushions the ends of bones in your joints gradually deteriorates. Cartilage is a firm, slippery tissue that permits nearly frictionless joint motion. In osteoarthritis, the slick surface of the cartilage becomes rough. Eventually, if the cartilage wears down completely, you may be left with bone rubbing on bone.
Pictures of the affected joint can be obtained during imaging tests. Examples include:
Cartilage doesn’t show up on X-ray images, but cartilage loss is revealed by a narrowing of the space between the bones in your joint. An X-ray may also show bone spurs around a joint. Some people may have X-ray evidence of osteoarthritis before they experience any symptoms.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging:
MRI uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field to produce detailed images of bone and soft tissues, including cartilage. MRI isn’t commonly needed to diagnose osteoarthritis but may help provide more information in complex cases.
Blood tests may help rule out other causes of joint pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Joint fluid analysis
Your doctor may use a needle to draw fluid out of the affected joint. Examining and testing the fluid from your joint can determine if there’s inflammation and if your pain is caused by gout or an infection.
C) Sjogren’s Syndrome
This is a disorder of your immune system identified by its two most common symptoms which are dry eyes and a dry mouth. Sjogren’s syndrome often accompanies other immune system disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. In Sjogren’s syndrome, the mucous membranes and moisture-secreting glands of your eyes and mouth are usually affected first which results in decreased production of tears and saliva. This condition is more prevalent in women as compared to men.
The two main symptoms of Sjogren’s syndrome are:
Dry eyes. Your eyes may burn, itch or feel gritty — as if there’s sand in them.
Dry mouth. Your mouth may feel like it’s full of cotton, making it difficult to swallow or speak.
Some people with Sjogren’s syndrome also experience one or more of the following:
Joint pain, swelling and stiffness.
Swollen salivary glands.
Skin rashes or dry skin.
Persistent dry cough.
This is an auto-immune disorder. This means that our immune system mistakenly starts attacking your own body’s healthy cells and tissues. Scientists aren’t certain why some people develop Sjogren’s syndrome and others don’t. Certain genes put people at higher risk of the disorder, but it appears that a triggering mechanism like infection with a particular virus or strain of bacteria is the instigating factor.
This is difficult to diagnose since the symptoms vary from person to person and can be similar to those caused by other diseases. There are however a variety of indirect tests which can help to diagnose this.
1) Blood Tests
The physician will carry tests on your blood sample to check the level of different types of blood cells, presence of anti-bodies and evidence of inflammatory conditions.
2) Eye Tests
Your doctor can measure the dryness of your eyes with a test called a Schirmer tear test. In this test, a small piece of filter paper is placed under your lower eyelid to measure your tear production.
A special X-ray called a sialogram can detect dye that’s injected into the salivary glands located in front of your ears. This procedure shows how much saliva flows into your mouth.
4) Salivary Scintigraphy
This nuclear medicine test involves the intravenous injection of a radioactive isotope, which is tracked over the course of an hour to see how quickly it arrives in all your salivary glands.
Your doctor may also want to do a lip biopsy to detect the presence of clusters of inflammatory cells, which can indicate Sjogren’s syndrome. For this test, a small sliver of tissue is removed from salivary glands located in your lip and examined under a microscope.
Natural Home Remedies For Rheumatism
Use these simple natural rheumatism natural remedies for accurate and safe treatment of your rheumatism.
Yoga is an ancient practice which originated in the Indian sub-continent. Its a series of poses and exercises that help in increasing body flexibility and improves overall well being as well. Yoga is exceptionally effective in treating the conditions of Ankylosing Sponylitis. It’s always better to join a Yoga class instead of trying to do at home yourself. Start with mild poses which are easier to perform and slowly make your way to the more advanced ones. This is the simplest and easiest rheumatism natural remedy.
Massage therapy, when performed by a therapist accustomed to working with ankylosing spondylitis, may be helpful. Massage may not only help relieve the pain and stiffness of Ankylosing Sponylitis but also ease the stress commonly brought on by having a chronic condition.
This is another ancient technique which owes its origins in China. It involves carefully inserting needles in the body at predefined points. This is done to relieve stress in the body and diminish muscular pain.
A warm bath or shower is a natural way to relieve the pain and stiffness of ankylosing spondylitis. Stretching to relieve pain and stiffness is also better after a warm shower. Stretching with cold joints and muscles isn’t best.” Alternating hot and cold compresses on painful spots is another natural pain-relief strategy you can try. A simple yet effective rheumatism natural remedy.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
TENS involves passing an electric current through the skin. It may work on the same principle as acupuncture — by bringing about the release of the body’s natural pain relievers. Although there have been some studies on TENS for back pain, results are mixed.
Use these simple rheumatism natural remedies for better relief and comfort. These techniques are easy to use and safe to practice regularly, with the best positive effects.