Rheumatic disorders affect the joints of millions of individuals worldwide. There are a number of conditions that result in inflammation of muscles and joints, and while the rheumatoid arthritis that is typically seen in a person's hands is one of the most commonly thought of, rheumatic disorders can also settle into the internal organs. More than 100 different types of these disorders have been diagnosed and classified.
Rheumatoid arthritis is found most commonly in women, and manifests itself with stiffness and swelling in the joints as well as lumps that can severely disfigure the joints. These are called rheumatoid nodules, and are typically found in the hands. This disfigurement, along with severe pain and fever, can make performing tasks requiring fine motor skills extremely difficult if not impossible.
Osteoarthritis occurs in tens of millions of people worldwide, and sets in when the cartilage between joints is worn away. This wearing away of the cushion between joints is what results in pain, instability, and weakness. It can make fine detail work difficult and painful, and can be found in the joints of the hands, fingers, back, knees, and hips. With osteoarthritis, joints may feel feverish and warm, while the muscles around them can become damaged and weak.
Gout is a common rheumatic disorder that can manifest itself suddenly, when an abnormally high amount of uric acid builds up in the body. This buildup of uric acid can happen for a number of reasons, and makes joints become not only painful, but red and swollen as well. Extremities are usually among the first to show signs of gout; those who are overweight or on certain types of medications and vitamins can be susceptible to attacks. These attacks are typically over in a few days to a week and a half, but recurring attacks are common.
An autoimmune disease that has the joint stiffness characteristic of other rheumatic disorders, lupus also impacts internal organs and organ function. Rashes can develop on the face of an individual with lupus, and he or she may develop chronic chest pain and symptoms as dramatic as seizures. Often the blood is also compromised, and an individual may become anemic.
Rheumatic disorders can also be found in children. Symptoms are often the same, and conditions such as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis can settle into the joints of an individual as young as two years of age. Care is generally designed to alleviate pain and help the joints function as well as possible for as long as possible. Braces, the application of heat and cold, medications, and physical therapy are all possible treatments for rheumatic disorders in children.