Arthritis

Arthritis and Rheumatic Diseases

Rheumatoid Arthritis

According to the Arthritis Foundation, there are over a hundred different rheumatic diseases that cause pain and swelling. Rheumatic diseases are characterized by inflammation (signs are redness and/or heat, swelling and pain) and loss of function of one or more connecting or supporting structures of the body. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) says they especially affect joints, tendons, ligaments, bones and muscles. Common symptoms are pain, swelling and stiffness. Some rheumatic diseases can also involve internal organs.

Many people use the word "arthritis" to refer to all rheumatic diseases. However, the word literally means joint inflammation. The many different kinds of arthritis comprise just a portion of the rheumatic diseases.

All told, an estimated 46 million Americans are affected with some form of arthritis or rheumatic disease. The latest study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the numbers will grow, to an estimated 67 million people over the next two decades.

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