According to reports from the American College of Rheumatology, around 7 million people in the United States are suffering from different forms of rheumatic disease. Among them, 300,000 are children. Usually, rheumatic diseases are autoimmune or inflammatory in nature. These diseases mainly affect the joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones.
Joint pain, swellings on the joints, stiffness, limited mobility, fatigue, fever, weight loss, etc. are some of the mot common symptoms of rheumatic diseases. Doctors are still not sure the exact rheumatism causes. It usually occurs when the immune system attacks your own cells and tissues.
The aim of rheumatism treatment is managing the pain, whether it is inflammatory or non-inflammatory. The pain caused by rheumatic diseases can be treated using pain relievers that also helps to reduce inflammation. These include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac, etc. These drugs ar capable of effectively reducing pain and inflammation.
The prevention of inflammation at the joints is another important aim of rheumatism treatment. The major drug used for preventing inflammation is corticosteroids. These drugs will prevent the progression of joint damage. Recently, new agents called biological response modifiers (BRMs) has been used for preventing inflammation caused by rheumatic diseases.
BRMs are mainly used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. The biological response modifiers will target the inflammatory markers than will cause joint damage. BRMs like Etanercept, Adalimumab, etc. has the ability to inhibit inflammatory markers like Tumor Necrosis Factors.
Another goal of rheumatism treatment is preventing joint damage. Due to the inflammation in the joints, most of the rheumatic diseases will lead to joint damage and decrease mobility. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, disease-modifying anti rheumatoid arthritis drugs or DMARDs are used to prevent joint damage. These drugs include hydroxychloroquine, leflunomide, methotrexate, etc.
Other Treatment Options
Physical therapy and surgery are the other options available for the treatment of rheumatic diseases. The physical therapy includes a series of exercise that keeps the joints flexible. Doctors suggest surgery only when the joint damage is severe.
The surgical procedures involved in the rheumatic arthritis surgery are joint fusion, synovectomy, tendon repair, and total joint replacement. Synovectomy is the procedure of removing the inflamed lining of the joints. Tendon repair aims at repairing the tendons that are damaged due to inflammation.
Sometimes the damaged parts of the joints are removed and replaced by a prosthesis that is made of plastic and metal. This is usually referred to as a total joint replacement. If this is not an option, surgeons recommend joint fusion for pain relief.