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What Is The Difference Between Arthritis And Rheumatism?

May 30, 2012

From Medical News Today

Arthritis refers to several diseases which affect the joints, while rheumatism (or rheumatic disorder) is a non-specific older term for medical conditions which affect connective tissue and the joints. Rheumatology is the study of therapeutic interventions. “Rheumatism” is a colloquial term which is much less commonly used today by medical professionals and medical writers. There is no recognized disorder today called “rheumatism”.

Rheumatic conditions are generally classified as localized, where just a specific location is affected, regional, when a larger region is involved, and generalized, when many parts of the body are painful.

For example:
Localized – bursitis, an inflammation of a small sac beteen the tendon and bone, or between the muscles.
Regional – when perhaps there is chest wall pain
Generalized – fibromyalgia
Approximately one-quarter of a million US children suffer from some kind of rheumatic disease, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, with osteoarthritis being the most common. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease, due to joint injury, joint infection, or age. Osteoarthritis tends to affect older individuals. Rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, gout, and some other autoimmune diseases are other forms of arthritis.

Patients with arthritis generally experience constant joint pain.

Arthritis can attack neighboring structures, such as the muscles, and even the liver, lungs, kidneys and heart.

Arthritis tends to be a chronic (long-term) disease. Chronic disability due to arthritis is the second most common from of chronic disability, after heart disease.

According to Medilexicon’s medical dictionary:
Rheumatism is an
1. Obsolete term for rheumatic fever.
2. Indefinite term applied to various conditions with pain or other symptoms of articular origin or related to other elements of the musculoskeletal system.

Arthritis is
Inflammation of a joint or a state characterized by inflammation of the joints.
Rheumatism is an indefinite term, while arthritis is a definite term.

Written by Christian Nordqvist

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