Rheumatism: the many faces of rheumatism.

Rheumatism: the many faces of rheumatism.

Chronic pain in joints and bones.

In the morning "stiff joints" and actually always aching bones, muscles and tendons - in the vernacular it is usually simply called "I have rheumatism". Not only older people suffer from these complaints.

The chronic complaints of the musculoskeletal system are described in the jargon as "rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases". This is because rheumatism has more than a hundred different clinical pictures, which can be divided into four main groups:

The largest group is the inflammatory rheumatic diseases. They manifest themselves primarily in chronic inflammation of the joints, which is called rheumatoid arthritis, or RA for short. They usually begin in the little fingers and toes, which then feel painful, swollen, warm and stiff, especially in the morning. If the symptoms persist for more than an hour, rheumatoid arthritis is suspected. Its cause lies in our immune system, which attacks our own joints and tendons, body tissue, skin and sometimes internal organs. In this case you should consult a specialist as soon as possible to avoid permanent damage!

The second group summarizes degenerative rheumatic diseases, which are damaged or pathologically changed joint cartilages. Typical signs are pain and restricted mobility, which occur mainly at the beginning of a load, but then decrease during rest phases. Their main cause is wear and tear (arthroses) of the cartilage due to age, overloading, injuries or chronic inflammation. They occur mainly in the knees, hips, fingers and toes or in the spine.

The third group is formed by chronic pain syndromes of the musculoskeletal system. They manifest themselves mainly as chronic back pain that increases with age, the so-called "tennis elbow" or carpal tunnel syndrome. The cause is usually an overload, the symptoms are irritated, painful soft tissue such as bursae, muscles, tendon attachments and tendon sheaths.

Finally, the fourth group includes metabolic diseases with rheumatic complaints. These include bone loss (osteoporosis), in which the bones become susceptible to fractures, and gout (arthritis urica). It is caused by an excess of uric acid and is manifested by sudden, severe pain and overheating in a joint. The base joint of the big toe is most likely to be affected.

There are indications that a warm, dry climate – like we find on Fuerteventura – softens the symptoms of many rheumatic diseases, but unfortunately it cannot be regarded as a healing method. For the effective treatment of "rheumatism" it is therefore important to first find the right profile, i.e. the cause of the disease.

(Edited from article by Heike Bludau)

Michel Robeers