Rheumatic diseases usually affect patients’ bones, connective tissues, joints, and muscles, causing swelling, pain, and stiffness. These diseases can affect areas, such as:
Depending on the affected area, you may be experiencing difficulty walking, gripping objects, or conducting everyday tasks, like dressing yourself and sitting down.
Types of Rheumatic Diseases
There are more than 100 distinct diseases that are classified as rheumatic diseases, including several different types of arthritis. Some rheumatic diseases are a result of wear and tear; however there are also some considered to be autoimmune diseases, which is when your immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells in your body.
Depending on the type of rheumatic condition you may be experiencing, your symptoms and treatment will vary. The most common types of Rheumatic Diseases include:
- Osteoarthritis – The most common type of arthritis and is categorized by the breakdown of the joint’s cartilage. This breakdown causes the bones to rub against each other, causing stiffness, pain and loss of movement.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis – Most often affecting the joints of patient’s hands and feet, this chronic disease is caused by an inflammation of the lining of joints. Long-term joint damage is often a result as the patient will experience chronic pain and loss of function.
- Gout – A type of arthritis where microscopic crystals of uric acid develop on the joints causing inflammation, swelling and pain – often occurring in the big toe.
- Lupus – Systemic Lupus Erythematosus causes chronic inflammation of joints, muscles and other parts of the body.
- Scleroderma – Also commonly referred to as systemic sclerosis, this disease occurs due to an abnormal overproduction of collagen in the skin.
- Myositis – Polymyositis is a rheumatic disease that can cause inflammation and muscle weakness affecting the whole body.
Are you at risk for Rheumatic Disease?
Rheumatic diseases can affect people of any age, sex or race; however, some people are at higher risk based on factors of genetics, gender, age, or environmental attributes. In 2013 there was an estimated 52.5 million adults suffering from arthritis conditions in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
It is not uncommon to experience muscle discomfort or joint swelling for various reasons at some points in your life; however, if you are concerned that pain is not resolving and is becoming chronic, we recommend seeking an evaluation from your primary care doctor. Should there be indication of an underlying rheumatic condition, he/she will refer you to our rheumatologist for further evaluation and diagnosis.
If you are concerned you may be experiencing any rheumatic symptoms, please schedule an appointment with our Primary Care team for an initial examination. Early detection and treatment is key to prevention of further joint damage.
Meet Our Catskill Regional Medical Group Rheumatologist
Dr. Jowairiyya Ahmad recently completed her fellowship training from Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia and joined the medical staff at Orange Regional Medical Center. Dr. Ahmad has experience in managing and treating patients with rheumatologic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, spondylo arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, scleroderma, myositis, ANCA-associated vasculitis, osteoarthritis, gout and osteoporosis.
Dr. Ahmad completed her internal medicine residency training at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, NY. After completing her geriatric fellowship at Montefiore Medical Center NY, she ventured to complete rheumatology fellowship at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia. During fellowship, she has been fortunate to work at the Lupus Center of excellence at Thomas Jefferson University, dedicated in providing comprehensive care improving the quality of life for lupus patients. She had active participation in the scleroderma program, research in autoimmune diseases, musculoskeletal ultrasound course and elective in the department of rheumatology at Nemours Children’s Hospital Delaware. She also has a special interest in geriatric rheumatology and has authored a book chapter in Reichel’s care for the elderly 7th edition.
Dr. Ahmad is a member of American College of Rheumatology and is Board-certified in Internal Medicine by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. Ahmad has presented in national meetings at American College of rheumatology (ACR) and American Medical Director Association (AMDA). Her contributions to medical literature include publications in Journal of Clinical Rheumatology, International Rheumatology, International Journal of infectious disease and Journal of American Medical Director Association.