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What are rheumatic diseases? What are the types of rheumatic diseases? How are rheumatic diseases treated?

Although rheumatism is usually defined as the pain, disability and deformities in the musculoskeletal system, systemic diseases, which are especially referred as inflammatory rheumatism and affect many parts of the body, occupy an important place in the practice of Rheumatology in our day. In the inflammatory rheumatism, it is known that the immune system generates inappropriate or abnormal reactions in persons with genetic predisposition, when the underlying mechanism of the disease is triggered by the environmental factors. The rheumatic diseases can be seen at all ages including childhood, but it is observed that aging increases the prevalence.

Some of the common rheumatic diseases are listed below:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Pseudogout
  • Behcet’s disease
  • Familial Mediterranean fever
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Scleroderma
  • Reactive arthritis
  • Vasculitis

As the case in many other diseases, early diagnosis and correct treatment are very important to prevent occurrence of disability and visceral organ problems secondary to rheumatic diseases. For this reason, success rate of treatment substantially increases when the correct diagnosis is made at the initial assessment and appropriate and up-to-date treatments are started without delay based on patient-specific investigations. Thus, it is possible to avoid the medical and economic burdens which may be caused by future disabilities or the related problems.  

Most rheumatic diseases are chronic in nature, and they should be periodically followed up. Accordingly, taking medications as advised by the physician and attending follow-up visits at regular intervals will help bot evaluation of response to the treatment and early diagnosis of possible future side effects and other conditions.

In management of rheumatic diseases, biological agents are successfully used for patients, who fail recovery with conventional agents with principle effect or cannot take conventional agents due to side effects.

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