Rheumatic disease is a connective tissue disease due to autoimmune causes, i.e. related to the function of our immune system. It means progressive changes that are developing and can affect more and more structures. The most common changes affect the components of the musculoskeletal system (joints, muscles, ligaments, fascia), internal organs (including lungs, kidneys, heart, vessels, eyes) and skin. Most often rheumatic disease has a characteristic course with relapses – exacerbation of lesions and remissions – silencing of lesions.
The exact causes of rheumatic diseases are not known. It is known that their substrate is a disorder of the immune system. Other causes that may affect the development of rheumatic disease include:
- genetic factors,
- inflammation of unknown origin,
- anatomical defects of bones and joints,
- viral or bacterial infections,
- constant stress,
- prolonged stay in a cool and humid climate,
- female gender.
What symptoms does rheumatic disease give you?
The symptoms of rheumatic disease depend on the type of disease and may affect many parts of the body. Most often they affect:
- musculoskeletal system – changes on the fingers, wrists, elbows, arms, knees, hips and joints of the spine, there appear: joint pain, swelling of the joint, morning stiffness of the joint, redness, distortion, muscular atrophy and limitation of movement, rheumatic pains;
- internal organs – usually the lungs, pericardium, kidneys and eyes;
- skin – psoriatic lesions appear on the elbows, knees, on the head and nails;
Patients also complain about constant fatigue, low-grade fever, excessive sweating, lack of apatite, wet skin and worsening of symptoms due to changes in the weather.
What are the causes of rheumatic pain?
Pain in rheumatic disease is the most characteristic and the most vexing symptom. It is acute, chronic or periodic, organic or psychogenic pain – that is, for no specific reason. It grows during the throw and feels stronger on cold and humid days, after considerable physical or mental effort. The pain decreases when the disease is remitted.
It accompanies inflammatory processes. Patients describe remathetic pains as diffuse, without a specific location; like in a pond, but also around him. Some people, despite the large damage to the joints, feel only a slight discomfort, and others pain can significantly impede everyday functioning.
Rheumatic pain causes a “vicious circle”, because inflammation of the rheumatic process causes irritation of soft tissues in the joint, it triggers pain, and this in turn leads to muscle tension and triggers even more severe ailments.
How to deal with pain? Which drugs should I use?
Rheumatic pain can be treated in various ways. We include, for example, pharmacotherapy, physiotherapy, balneotherapy (treatments using water), psychotherapy.
Analgesics taken by people with rheumatic disease can be used orally, topically on the skin (ointments, gels, creams) or rectally. In the case of major pain, injectable medications applied directly to the joint are recommended.
Among them we distinguish:
- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which have analgesic and anti-inflammatory component, the most popular substances in this group of drugs are: diclofenac, acetylsalicylic acid, ketoprofen, ibuprofen, naproxen; these preparations are readily available in pharmacies without a prescription;
- opioid drugs – they work strongly, but only reduce pain, do not fight the cause – inflammation (eg tramadol);
- glucocorticoids – they are the strongest anti-inflammatory drugs (steroid drugs, most often injected directly into the aching joint);
- drugs that change the course of the disease, the dosage of which is strictly determined by the physician, as these are usually strong remedies such as suflasalazine, penicillamine, gold salts, leflunomide;
- immunosuppressive drugs – they aim to weaken autoimmune processes, eg methotrexate.
The side effects of painkillers are quite common. There may be, for example, vomiting, nausea, headache, redness and itching of the skin with a rash, gastrointestinal disorders, diarrhea).
Physiotherapy for rheumatic pains
Physiotherapy includes the use of analgesic and anti-inflammatory treatments that can improve the well-being of a patient with a rheumatic disorder. Among the recommended treatments, the best results are obtained by:
- local cryotherapy – for 3 minutes a sick, sore joint is in the vapor of liquid nitrogen;
- a cryochamber, where the temperature is up to -160oC, is systemic; in people with rheumatic disease improves mood, strengthens immunity, relaxes painful muscles and reduces inflammation, with the reimbursed cryochamber treatment can be used even twice a year, one series usually consists of ten treatments,
- magnetotherapy – the diseased place is in the spool, in which the magnetic field is produced,
- laser therapy – electromagnetic radiation also works not only for analgesic and anti-inflammatory, but also for the repair of damaged soft tissues,
- whirling bath of hands or lower limbs – it is performed in a special bathtub, thanks to the action of water and whirl massage muscles are loosened and pain is reduced, the water temperature should not exceed 30° C,
- ultrasounds – a head that generates ultrasonic waves massages sick and painful places, the procedure lasts a few minutes and is painless.
You can combine a physical treatment with an analgesic and anti-inflammatory medicine. Physical treatments that accelerate the absorption of the drug are:
- ultrasounds – the drug is absorbed by the ultrasound wave, the procedure is then determined by phonophoresis,
- iontophoresis – the drug is absorbed by means of direct current.
What are the other ways to treat rheumatic pains?
The treatment of rheumatic diseases should be comprehensive and besides pharmacotherapy and physical therapy, the following should also be taken into account:
- kinesitherapy, i.e. healing exercises that improve the mobility of sick and painful joints, can reduce pain and stiffness in the morning, regular and gentle strengthening and stretching of the muscles, general and conditioning exercises are recommended, although they should be carried out with caution due to chronic condition inflammatory, which may exacerbate excessive effort,
- orthopedic supply, which offers auxiliary devices, eg spheres, canes, bands and braces stabilizing ill joints,
- kinesiotaping – applying elastic tapes to painful areas that can relieve painful joints, reduce inflammation and improve the comfort of a sick person,
- rehabilitation stays in rehabilitation centers (hospitals, clinics) that offer patients various physiotherapy treatments,
- spa treatment in sanatoriums – it is recommended that patients go to the centers where rehabilitation is offered, which takes into account treatments with the use of natural environmental resources, such as: natural drinking water, sulphide waters or mud (balneotherapy),
- change of lifestyle – an ill person must learn to save sick joints and not to undertake large physical efforts, especially during the illness, when the symptoms may increase and worsen the patient’s well-being,
- proper and healthy diet (omega-3 fatty acids, vegetables and fruits),
- avoiding staying in moisture and cold.