This website is designed to create awareness regarding potentially serious rheumatological conditions and for effective care of individuals suffering with these diseases. It provides elementary information regarding frequently seen yet under diagnosed diseases termed rheumatologic diseases.
These diseases occur due to immune dysfunction. Some of these diseases run in families. The exact causes for occurence of these diseases are not known clearly. Researchers believe genetics, life style choices, infection, environmental factors may play a role in their development. They are chronic, debilitating and life threatening conditions. In these conditions every part of the body is affected. Anything can happen to any organ of body. These diseases change or evolve over time. Hence more than one office visit may be required before your rheumatologist reaches a definitive diagnosis. Many of these conditions present with non specific symptoms like decreased hunger, fever, weight loss similar to non rheumatologic conditions. This creates a diagnostic challenge at initial stages. But it is very imperative to recognize them in early stages as many of these life threatening disorders respond best to treatment in the early stages. Similarly prompt initiation of therapy prevents suffering and mortality. Early treatment also improves quality of life. The best protection from these diseases is early recognition and prompt initiation of treatment.
Different types of rheumatologic diseases will have different presentations. Similarly they can also have many common features which include raynauds, skin rash, photosensitivity, ulcers in the mouth & genital regions, dryness of mouth & eyes, hair loss, and decrease in blood counts. They can also have muscle weakness ( myositis/myopathy), ILD (involvement of lung), vasculitis, eye involvement (like uveitis, retinitis, keratitis), alveolar hemorrhage, compressive myelopathy etc.
Furthermore they can also present as life threatening emergencies related to either underlying rheumatological condition or due to drugs used in treatment of these disorders or can be secondary to infection.
Many non rheumatologic diseases do have symptoms similar to rheumatologic conditions. They include:
Thus differentiating autoimmune from non autoimmune rheumatologic diseases, expedient diagnosis and timely intervention ameliorate suffering and improve outcomes. So early rheumatologist guidance is recommended in these patients for better survival.
In view of their non specific symptoms, wide range presentations, the diagnosis is often delayed. Hence any person with the mentioned symptoms should approach rheumatologist for high quality supervised guidance and management.
No two cases are similar and treatment is individualized. Treatment should aim at proper balance between disease control and potential side effects of drugs.
One of the most important symptoms in patients suffering with autoimmune diseases. It requires attention as this is not symptomatic. Most of the time patient do not notice it. It manifest as episodic sense of tingling, change in color of fingers, toes (red- blue - white) on cold exposure. There are a wide spectrum of diseases associated with raynauds like systemic sclerosis (scleroderma), mixed connective tissue disease, lupus, rheumatoid, sjogrens etc. Various drugs can also precipitate raynauds. It may precede systemic illness by two decades. Presence of raynauds in the background of ANA positivity should warrant search for rheumatologic condition.
Pregnancy in the setting of rheumatologic disease is frequently encountered and can sometimes create management challenges particularly when these diseases are active at the time of conception. These disease can have an effect on pregnancy in the form recurrent abortions, premature births, low birth weight babies, high blood pressure etc.
There are a lot of myths regarding arthritis in the community among which the important ones are:
No age is an exception to disease, though it is commonly seen in middle age. There are no food restrictions to be followed in Arthritis. In fact patients should consume food rich in calcium apart from enjoying balanced diet. Patients should have regular physiotherapy, good sleep and have to follow stress avoiding techniques in addition to treatment advised by rheumatologist.