Rheumatism and arthritis are two bone and muscle diseases that people refer to almost interchangeably. Generally speaking, most people do not really see the difference. After all, both diseases manifest the same symptoms of recurring pain in joints and muscles. While both conditions can sometimes be unbearably painful and afflict older men and women, they are in fact different.
Rheumatism does not refer to a single disease or condition, but to over a 100 conditions based on the location and characteristics of the symptoms. For many years, rheumatism was the generic term used to describe various painful medical conditions related to bones, muscles, joints and tendons, until doctors began to use the term arthritis to describe joint-related ailments.
By definition, arthritis is a disease of the bone joints, where two or more bones come together and connect. When joints begin to show signs of redness, tenderness, and sensitivity to pain, then you are likely to be experiencing arthritis. Rheumatism, on the other hand, affects not just joints, but also bones, ligaments and other vital organs of the body, including heart, lungs, kidneys, and liver. In this context, all arthritis types are forms of rheumatism, while rheumatism is not always arthritis.
The cure and treatment for different types of arthritis or rheumatism depends on certain conditions. Doctors underscore the need for specific treatment for specific cases of arthritis and rheumatism. After all, the different types of arthritis and rheumatism are triggered by many factors, including food, allergens, genetics, and obesity. Among the most common types of rheumatic diseases are ankylosing spondylitis, fibromyalgia, lupus, scleroderma, polymyositis, dermatomyositis, polymyalgia rheumatica, bursitis, tendinitis, vasculitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and complex regional pain syndrome.
On the other hand, the most common cases of arthritis, an ailment characterized by joint related pain, stiffness, inflammation and damage, are rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, juvenile arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis, infectious arthritis, gout and pseudogout. Just like rheumatism, each type of arthritis requires a separate and distinct treatment. Despite these distinctions, people continue to use the terms interchangeably. Such a lack of knowledge has potentially painful, if not dangerous, consequences for arthritic and rheumatic sufferers, whose best chances to stop the progression of both diseases are when they are just starting to manifest the painful symptoms.
Arthritis and rheumatism inflict the most pain on people who fail to recognize the cause of their affliction and, therefore, are unable to immediately follow the doctor’s advice to control both diseases through a balanced, low-uric acid and high-fiber diet, regular exercise, and medication.