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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...

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Repetitive strain injury
Respiratory acidosis
Restless legs syndrome
Retinitis pigmentosa
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Rett syndrome
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Rift Valley fever
Rocky Mountain spotted fever
Romano-Ward syndrome
Roseola infantum
Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome
Rumination disorder

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:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Rheumatic heart disease (Rheumatic fever)
  • Shoulder pain
  • Neck pain
  • Back pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Polymyalgia rheumatica
  • Tenosynovitis
  • Capsulitis
  • Bursitis
  • 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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Japan through Gaijin eyes
From PSA Journal, 12/1/05 by Derek M. Slattery

One of the first words of Japanese a foreigner is likely to learn is "GAIJIN" which literally translated means "outside person." Although there is a large population of people of non-Japanese descent such as Chinese or Korean which are referred to as "alien," the word "foreigner" generally means Westerner or European. One is quick to grasp the situation on arrival in Japan by air and see immediately a mass of Japanese (but very few foreigners) all rushing in different directions in suits and with briefcases. The routes they take have signs in Japanese only and it is for this reason that I recommend that first-time visitors travel with an organized group with a guide who speaks your language, or be met by a friend or relative who can show you the way after you have passed through the normal passport and immigration control points, otherwise much time can be wasted simply trying to find a way out of the airport!

The things which must be done at the airport after passing through the formalities of passport and immigration control begin with getting your Japan Rail (JR) Pass voucher validated at a JR Travel Center (if you intend using the pass immediately to go into Tokyo). Once validated, reservations can be made at any so-called Green Window at any major station.

This ticket is a bargain for foreigners but must be purchased outside Japan and you must be traveling in Japan under the visa status of "temporary visitor." The Japan Rail Pass is usually valid for 7, 14 or 21 days and allows virtually unlimited travel on the National JR network, including the Shinkansen or bullet trains.

The next item to consider is your heavy baggage, especially if you are traveling light around Japan as a tourist before reaching your final destination. If this is true, it is then recommended that your heavy baggage be sent ahead to that final destination by sending the baggage through a transportation agent which can be found outside the airport. Your baggage is documented, then wrapped in plastic and will reach its destination within 48 hours to await your arrival. To travel in Japan, use an airline cabin bag on wheels, taking only sufficient articles required for your one or two weeks travel. (This procedure would not apply if you are being met by friend or relative who will be using his own transportation throughout your planned trip). Otherwise, it is essential, as trains and stations are not designed for travelers moving around the country with heavy baggage. In fact, if you planned making all your train connections while hauling several large suitcases, better forget it. The train and subway maps look neat and tidy, but the station connections are a serious problem as there are no carts or porters available. Even worse, sometimes the distances between platforms are far apart with seemingly endless stairs which are both long and steep and no elevators or escalators. It is only in recent years at the major stations that escalators have been installed which have eased the burden somewhat.

Japan is a complex subject on which to write as it is so diverse by regions for those of the western world especially outside the main cities. For a Gaijin without the knowledge of Japanese it is very difficult to visit as most of the streets and districts are in Japanese script and except for the younger generation, English is hardly spoken. Therefore, one either takes an organized tour with guides and coaches (knowing that is virtually useless for good photography) or at additional expense use a taxi(s) within the city limits to visit temples and other places of interest, but this latter method has to be planned ahead as you must advise what you want to see and arrangements made through the hotel and to fix a price.

Shooting Portraits in Japan

Photography presents no problem in general unless one wants to take portraits (which is the subject selected here) of Japanese in markets, villages and shopping areas away from the main cities. In Japan, the difficulty arises when photographing the older generation--it is then when the local language comes into play when trying to explain the reason for photographing, asking permission or changing the positioning of the subject if the background presents a problem (such as, a lamp post which appears to be coming out of the top of the head, or objects which distract from the subject person being photographed). Further, the biggest problem in villages and small towns is the wires which criss-cross the small lanes and roads. No wires are buried underground and lamp posts are attached to terminals.

With these problems in mind, consider ignoring street scenes and direct photography to other subjects of interest, such as portraiture, arts and crafts, etc. For these subjects I use a SLR camera plus auto-focus and image stabilizer lens to take quick shots of people; I have the camera loaded with fast film as the shots are taken hand-hold without tripods. In taking portraits, I use an 85mm lens focusing on the pupil of the eye with an aperture between f5.6-f11 depending on how much of the portrait you wish in focus. It is best to have a dark background by using a doorway (without internal lighting), placing the subject outside the shadow area with sufficient light to illuminate the face. Harsh lighting of midday will make unpleasant shadows on the face. The best condition is an overcast but bright day. The difference is great between studio portraits where the photographer obtains the best modeling light, proper light meter reading with both the camera and lens supported on a tripod and travel photography portraits. It is much more difficult with none of the above conditions, however, a fill flash on the camera can be used by bouncing the flash off a nearby reflecting object, allowing highlights to appear in the eyes or you might use a diffuser over your flash head.

It is sometime rewarding if one experiments a little on the final result, such as taking portraits using daylight film with room lighting, without flash or filters. This is just one of endless possibilities but it is worth trying to possibly achieve something different. Japanese portraiture for foreigners, though fascinating, is fraught with problems making the task both challenging and exciting to capture moments which illustrate the characteristics of the people which are so different to what one normally encounters outside Japan.

Always seize an opportunity when it presents itself: on one occasion when checking into a hotel in Kyoto, there was a Geisha posing in the lobby to attract foreigners to visit in the Gion quarters of Kyoto and observe a display of traditional dancing, the tea ceremony plus and other forms of Geisha art and costumes. A photo was waiting to be taken.

The best way to see Japan is to know someone and be invited to their home which for foreigners is very unusual or to stay at a traditional village inn and live Japanese style. If you suffer from rheumatism or arthritis, however, it is not suggested to try to live in the style of the people, unless you have always practiced yoga. The best time to visit Japan for photography is Spring and Autumn for the cherry blossom season and the autumn colors respectively, or Winter if interested in sports photography. The period to avoid is mid- summer because of the heat and humidity followed by the typhoon season. Avoid the peak season when the Japanese travel: the New Year (25th December to 4th January), The Golden Week when many businesses close (29th April to 5th May) and Obon, a week centering around the 15th August.

Finally, the setting sun can be spectacular especially if one is in the region of Mt. Fuji showing it sweeping up from the Pacific to form a nearly perfect symmetrical cone 12,388 feet above sea level. I wish you great images when you visit Japan.

Derek M. Slattery




COPYRIGHT 2005 Photographic Society of America, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2006 Gale Group

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