Rheumatic diseases are a range of conditions that impact tendons, ligaments, bones, and muscles throughout the body. This includes many types of arthritis and other issues that can significantly impact your quality of life. While they tend to occur in older individuals, they’re known to occur at any age.
Most of these conditions are caused by immune system dysfunction, leading to tissue damage. While doctors aren’t entirely sure what causes this reaction, they’ve identified both genes and the environment as potential factors.
The most common symptoms of rheumatic diseases include joint pain, trouble moving, and general inflammation around the body. There are over 200 distinct types of rheumatism, with some of the most common being osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, gout, and scleroderma.
The precise causes of rheumatic diseases aren’t currently understood. As with most conditions, having a family history is one of the more impactful risk factors. Sex also appears to play a significant role, with women being more likely to develop some form of rheumatism than men. Some risk factors of rheumatism that we can control include things such as smoking, diet, and exercise. Living a healthy lifestyle is shown to reduce the risk of developing these conditions significantly.
Current estimates suggest that nearly 25% of the adult US population, or 54.4 million people, are currently living with some form of rheumatism. Making matters worse, researchers believe this number could jump to over 78 million in the next 20 years.
Anyone who’s worried they or a loved one could be dealing with rheumatism should seriously consider talking to a doctor. Only they can get you on the right path forward, with an accurate diagnosis. Rheumatism can be controlled, and quality of life significantly increased, but it requires the right treatment plan.