Rheumatism or Rheumatic disorder is a non-specific term for medical problems affecting the heart, bones, joints, kidney, skin and lung. The study of, and therapeutic interventions in, such disorders is called rheumatology. more...
The term "rheumatism" is still used in colloquial speech and historical contexts, but is no longer frequently used in medical or technical literature; it would be fair to say that there is no longer any recognized disorder called, simply, "rheumatism". The traditional term covers such a range of different problems that to ascribe symptoms to "rheumatism" is not to say very much: arthritis and rheumatism between them cover at least 200 different conditions.
A vast number of traditional herbal remedies were recommended for "rheumatism". Modern medicine, both conventional and complementary, recognises that the different rheumatic disorders have different causes (and several of them have multiple causes) and require different kinds of treatment. Most sources dealing with rheumatism tend to focus on arthritis. However "non-articular rheumatism", also known as "regional pain syndrome" or "soft tissue rheumatism" can cause just as much discomfort and difficulty.
The major rheumatic disorders currently recognised include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Rheumatic heart disease (Rheumatic fever)
- Shoulder pain
- Neck pain
- Back pain
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
- Polymyalgia rheumatica
- Rheumatic fever.
Although these disorders probably have little in common in terms of their epidemiology, they do share two characteristics: they cause chronic (though often intermittent) pain, and they are difficult to treat. They are also, collectively, very common. The very long list of supposed herbal remedies for rheumatism no doubt reflects the intractable nature of the problems it involves, and so, perhaps, does the fact that are no fewer than six patron saints for sufferers from rheumatism: Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, Saint Colman, Saint James the Greater, Saint Killian, Saint Servatus, and Saint Totnan.
Initial therapy of the major rheumatological diseases is with paracetamol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), members of which are ibuprofen and diclofenac. Often, stronger analgesics are required.
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