The word rheumatism is derived from the Greek word ‘rheuma’, which means a swelling. It refers to an acute or chronic illness which is characterized by pain and swelling of the muscles, ligaments and tendons, or the joints. The medical terminology for rheumatism arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatism arthritis is a chronic and painful disorder which can attack the joints on your arms and legs leaving them inflamed and swollen. Although rheumatism symptoms may often resemble those of another condition called osteoarthritis, one can spot a few differences between them. In rheumatism arthritis, the lining in the joints is inflamed while in osteoarthritis the painful condition is due to wear and tear of joints and ligaments. Left untreated, rheumatism arthritis would ultimately result in denuded bones and permanently distorted joints. Osteoarthritis, on the other hand, is a painful condition but may not cause any permanent damage.
Risk factors of rheumatism
- Female sex
- Frequent nasopharyngeal infections
- Poor housing and occupational conditions
- Negatively affect outcomes of primary Rheumatic fever and contribute to emergence of valvular disease. The initial attack of activity I or III degree, pronounced carditis, active rheumatic process at discharge, recurrences, absence of year-round prophylaxis allow prognostication of valvular heart disease.
Types of rheumatism
The major rheumatic disorders currently recognized include:
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Back pain
- Bursitis/Tendinitis, Shoulder pain, wrist, biceps, leg, knee (patellar), ankle, hip, and Achilles
- Neck pain
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Rheumatic fever
- Rheumatic heart disease (a long-term complication of Rheumatic fever)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
- Temporal arteritis and Polymyalgia rheumatica
Sign and symptoms of rheumatism
Early rheumatism symptoms may include persistent pain in the joints along with swelling.
• Apart from pain and swelling, if your joints are tender to the touch, you may suffer from rheumatism arthritis.
• Individuals suffering from rheumatism arthritis may also experience persistent fevers and chills.
• Fever may be accompanied by a feeling of fatigue.
• Swollen hands that are burning red and hot to the touch are another indication of rheumatism arthritis.
• Individuals suffering from rheumatism arthritis may find prolongated symptoms of morning soreness in their limbs.
• Some individuals may also notice a nodule like growth underneath the skin on their arms.
• Rapid weight loss is also a common symptom of rheumatoid arthritis.
Investigations of rheumatism
- Blood test
Full blood count:
Anaemia may be due to chronic disease or blood loss from gastric irritation secondary to NSAIDs.
White cells: possible changes include neutrophilia in septic arthritis, eosinophiliain polyarteritisnodosa, neutropenia in Felty’s syndrome and leucopenia in SLE.
Platelets may be increased in rheumatoid arthritis and may be decreased in SLE.
Acute phase proteins:
- ESR and CRP are non-specific indicators of inflammatory activity.
- Uric acid: may be raised in gout.
May be renal dysfunction in chronic disease such as gout or connective tissue disorders.
- AUTOANTIBODIES: RHEUMATOID FACTOR
May support the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. An antibody to a substance called cyclic citrullinated peptide (CCP) has been found to be more specific than rheumatoid factor in rheumatoid arthritis and may be more sensitive in erosive disease.
- Antinuclear antibodies may suggest systemic lupus erythematosus or other connective tissue disorders.
- HLA B27: increased positivity in ankylosing spondylitis and other spondyloarthropathies.
- Serology, e.g. HIV, may be appropriate
- Other investigations
proteinuriamay be due to nephrotic syndrome associated with connective tissue disease.
- Synovial fluid:
- White cell count raised in infection.
- Gram stain (tuberculosis), culture and sensitivities.
- Crystal identification: urate, calcium pyrophosphate.
- X-rays: may show distinctive changes, such as in rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis. Chest x-ray may be indicated for lung involvement in rheumatoid arthritis, SLE, vasculitis and tuberculosis.
- Ultrasound: soft tissue abnormalities, e.g. synovial cysts.
- CT scan, MRI: much greater information of bone, joint and soft tissue.
- Direct view of joint and synovial fluid.
- Potential for biopsy and therapeutic procedures.
Homeopathic treatment of rheumatism
Homeopathy is one of the most popular holistic systems of medicine. The selection of remedy is based upon the theory of individualization and symptoms similarity by using holistic approach. This is the only way through which a state of complete health can be regained by removing all the sign and symptoms from which the patient is suffering. The aim of homeopathy is not only to treat rheumatism but to address its underlying cause and individual susceptibility. As far as therapeutic medication is concerned, several remedies are available to treat rheumatism that can be selected on the basis of cause, sensations and modalities of the complaints. For individualized remedy selection and treatment, the patient should consult a qualified homeopathic doctor in person. There are following remedies which are helpful in the treatment of rheumatism:
Colchicum – asthenic subacute rheumatism in people overworked and subject to hygiene, with wavelike electric pains, traveling crosswise or from left to right. Special affinity for fibrous tissues.
Benzoic acid – arthritis deformans; painful nodes in joints, especially in syphilitic or gonorrhoeal patients, with rheumatic diathesis; pains go from right to left side and from below upward; aggravation from heat and joints cracking on motion; gout and rheumatism affecting heart or alternating one with other.
Lobelia – inflammatory rheumatism in right knee, swelling and extreme pain; painful stiffness in knees as after a long march; rheumatic pain between scapulae in right shoulder-joint, goes to the left upper arm and around the elbow-joint.
Guaiacum – guaicum is a remedy with many rheumatic symptoms. It is in the chronic forms of articular rheumatism where the joints are distorted with concretions that it will do the most good.