Pain in the joints is a very common disease affecting many people around the world. Across the European Union, musculoskeletal conditions are among the largest diagnostic groups in terms of health-care expenditures. In the United States, based on data from the National Health Interview Survey, an estimated 52.5 million (22.7 percent) of adults have self-reported doctor-diagnosed arthritis, and 22.7 million (9.8 percent) have arthritis and arthritis-attributable activity limitation.
The joint pain is produced when a joint is swollen. The inflamation takes place in form of redness or heat, stiffness, swelling, loss of function of one or more connecting or supporting structures of the joints. Besides, other body parts such as tendons, ligaments, bones, muscles and in some cases also internal organs, are affected by these pains as well. When a joint is swollen, it is commonly called 'arthritis'. The word „arthritis“ means joint inflammation and is often used to refer to any disorder that affect the joints. These disorders are categorized below the term „rheumatic diseases“. Rheumatic diseases are characterized by inflammation and there are more than 100 types of rheumatic diseases. The most common type of rheumatic diseases is osteoarthritis and a less common form is called rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is an illness, which damages both the cartilage (the tissue that cushions the ends of bones within the joint) and the underlying bone. Osteoarthritis can cause joint pain and stiffness. Disability results most often when the disease affects the vertebral column and the knees and hips also called „weight-bearing joints“.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease of the immune system that attacks the lining of the joint, called the “synovium,” resulting in pain and swelling and loss of function in the joints. The most commonly affected joints are those in the hands and feet.
Other rheumatic diseases
Bursitis: A condition given when the „bursae“ is swollen. This body part produces pain and tenderness and may limit the movement of nearby joints. The bursae are small, fluid-filled sacs that help reduce friction between bones and other moving structures in the joints.
Fibromyalgia: A chronic disorder that appears when an overall muscle ache is experienced or when tender points are present. Tender points are points on the body that ache when they are pressed. Other symptoms include fatigue and sleep disturbances.
Gout: A type of arthritis when the joints develop deposits of needle-like crystals of uric acid. This symptom usually starts in the big toe. The crystals cause inflammation from time to time, swelling and pain in the affected joints.
Infectious arthritis: This term is used to describe different types of arthritis that are caused by infections (bacteria or virus). Some examples of this illness are parvovirus arthritis, gonococcal arthritis and the arthritis that occurs with „Lyme disease“, which is a bacterial infection following the bite of certain infected ticks.
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis: The most common form of arthritis affecting children. It causes pain, stiffness, swelling, and loss of function of the joints. It may be associated with rashes or fevers and may affect various parts of the body.
Polymyalgia rheumatica: A condition affecting tendons, muscles, ligaments, and tissues around the joint that causes pain, aching, and morning stiffness in the shoulders, hips, neck, and lower back. It is sometimes the first sign of giant cell arteritis, a disease of the arteries, whose symptoms are headaches, inflammation, weakness, weight loss, and fever.
Polymyositis: A rheumatic disease given when the muscles are swollen and present weakness. This disease may affect the whole body and cause disability.
Scleroderma also called „systemic sclerosis“: A condition in which an excessive production of collagen leads to thickening of and damage to the skin, blood vessels, joints, and sometimes internal organs such as the lungs and kidneys.
Spondyloarthropathies: A group of rheumatic diseases that principally affects the vertebral column. One common form called „ankylosing spondylitis“ also may affect the hips, shoulders, and knees. Another kind of spondyloarthropathy, named „reactive arthritis“, occurs after an infection involving the lower urinary tract, bowel, or other organ and is commonly associated
with eye problems, skin rashes, and mouth sores. Psoriatic arthritis, which is a form of arthritis that occurs in some persons with a skin disorder called „psoriasis“, is also considered a spondlyoarthropathy. Psoriatic arthritis often affects the joints at the ends of the fingers and toes and is accompanied by changes in the fingernails and toenails. Back pain may occur if the vertebral column is involved.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (also known as SLE or “lupus”): An autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the body’s own healthy cells and tissues. This can result in inflammation of and damage to the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and brain.
Tendinitis. Inflammation of tendons. Tendons are tough cords of tissue that connect muscle to bone. The inflammation is caused by overuse, injury, or a rheumatic condition and may restrict movement of nearby joints.