This is the most common of the “spondyloarthropies,” rheumatic diseases that specifically affect the spine. Ankylosing spondylitis, most common in young adults, also inflames tendons in the hips, knees, and shoulders, causing pain and stiffness.
More than 2 million adults have this disease, which is characterized by uric acid crystals in the joints — most often the big toe — that cause episodes of pain and swelling. Gout is more often a problem for men than women.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), more commonly called “lupus,” is an autoimmune disease that attacks the body’s own healthy cells and tissues, causing damage to joints and organs throughout the body. Ninety percent of people with lupus are female.
This is the most common type of arthritis. It affects 27 million adults in the United States and destroys cartilage and bone, causing pain and disability.
This is a form of arthritis that occurs in people with the skin disorder psoriasis. This painful disease affects joints of fingers and toes and creates visible changes in finger- and toenails.
Nearly 1.3 million people have rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This rheumatic disease destroys the synovial tissue — the lining of joints — causing swelling, pain, and stiffness throughout the body. Unlike other rheumatic diseases, RA symptoms tend to occur symmetrically — meaning that if your right hand is affected, your left hand will be also. Women are two to three times more likely than men to have RA.
With this rheumatic disease, the body produces too much collagen, the fibrous material that supports the structure of skin and other organs. Scleroderma literally means “hard skin” but also particularly affects blood vessels and joints.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for rheumatologic diseases, although with early diagnosis and aggressive treatment, remission is possible. The goal of treatment is to relieve inflammation, control pain and improve quality of life, and possibly achieve remission.