All you need to know about Rheumatology
1. What is “Rheumatology”?
Rheumatology is a subspecialty that deals with joints, soft tissues, autoimmune diseases and autoinflammatory diseases.
2. Which diseases are covered under Rheumatology?
Rheumatoid arthritis, Psoriatic arthritis (in patients with skin psoriasis), Gouty arthritis, Spondyloarthritis (Ankylosing Spondylitis), Juvenile Arthritis (in children), Osteoarthritis, SLE (LUPUS), Sjögren syndrome, Systemic sclerosis (Scleroderma), Myositis, Vasculitis, Sarcoidosis, Osteoporosis, and many other diseases are covered under Rheumatology.
3. What are the common symptoms of these Rheumatic diseases?
- The most common symptom is joint pains, affecting hand joints, wrist, elbow, shoulder, hip, knee, ankle and feet
- Swelling of the joints, and joint stiffness (which occurs in the morning and lasts for 30 minutes to few hours)
- Chronic low back pain (in patients under 45 years of age), which is more on lying on bed and better with walking, associated with stiffness of back in the morning, is a symptom of spondyloarthritis
- Common symptoms of SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematsus) are; fever, decreased appetite, weight loss, fatigue, excessive hair fall, various types of skin rashes (Butterfly rash over face), oral ulcers, joint pains, and low blood counts
- Patients with Sjögren syndrome experience dryness of eyes and mouth, due to decreased production of tears and saliva
- Itching, thickening and tightening of the skin, and Raynaud’s phenomenon (colour changes at the finger tips, in cold weather or water) are seen in scleroderma.
- Muscle pains and weakness (difficulty in getting up from a chair or bed, lifting hands overhead) with or without rashes are the symptoms of myositis
- Symptoms of vasculitis include; red spots on skin, painful red eye, nose bleeding and many other symptoms.
4. Is there a treatment for Rheumatic diseases?
Various treatment options are available for rheumatic diseases, which can be safely taken under the guidance of a rheumatologist. Common misbeliefs among people are, that the medications are harmful and causes side effects if used for a long time (which is not true). After getting relief with the initial treatment, many patients stop taking medications without consulting doctor, which leads to recurrence of symptoms.
5. What are the consequences of delay in diagnosis and treatment?
Delay in treatment can cause irreversible damage in the joints, lungs, kidneys, brain, eyes and many other organs. Therefore, early diagnosis and treatment by a rheumatologist is extremely important.
Dr. S. Nayan Patel
MBBS, MD, DM (NIMS)
Consultant Rheumatologist, Star Hospitals
For Appointments, Call: 040 4477 7700