Dr Hilary Jones' Healthcare Guide - Essex, Kent & Sussex - (Page 117)

RHEUMATOLOGY – ARTHRITIS AND MUSCULOSKELETAL CONDITIONS Accurate diagnosis is key to prevent any long-term damage to joints and muscles joint EFFORT through fever and tiredness. It is diagnosed chiefly on symptoms and signs, but also with blood tests and X-rays. TREATMENT Various treatments are available for rheumatoid arthritis. Physiotherapy and occupational therapy can help. Painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs, including steroids, are used to suppress the symptoms, while disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs are often required to inhibit or halt the underlying immune process and prevent the condition from causing long-term damage. T PHOTOGRAPHS: Getty Images he branch of medicine concerned with the treatment of rheumatic diseases is known as rheumatology. Specialists who work in this field are called rheumatologists and they deal mainly with clinical problems involving joints, soft tissues and conditions of connective tissues. there is no cure and treatment depends on severity of symptoms. Mild symptoms usually respond to anti-inflammatory drugs (aspirin). Scleroderma The mystery disease that can be treated RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS This chronic, inflammatory disorder most commonly attacks the small joints in the hands and feet but can also be present in the joints of the spine. Rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of your joints, leading to painful swelling that can eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity. About 1% of the world’s population is affected and women are three times more likely to have the condition than men. It’s usually diagnosed between the ages of 40 and 50. WHAT CAUSES IT? Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, meaning it occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your body’s own tissues. In addition to painful joints, the condition can affect the whole body LUPUS Although few people have heard of lupus, it affects more than five million people worldwide. It’s a chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when your body’s immune system attacks its own tissues and organs. Any part of the body can be affected, but the two major symptoms are muscle pains and extreme fatigue. WHAT CAUSES IT? A precise cause is not known although hereditary factors, hormonal changes and infection seem to play a part. TREATMENT If lupus is suspected it can be diagnosed by a few blood and urine tests but This is an autoimmune connective tissue disease that affects the skin, blood vessels, muscles and internal organs. There are two types of scleroderma; localised and systemic. In most cases, the localised variant only affects the skin on the hands and face and rarely spreads around the body. Classic symptoms are swollen hands and reddish patches of hardened skin. Systemic scleroderma can affect the organs and large areas of skin. Symptoms include hardened skin, pain in the joints and diarrhoea. The disease is most common in 30 to 50-yearolds, and women are most susceptible. The causes are not understood at present. There is no specific treatment for scleroderma, but non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs and skin and joint protection therapy tend to ease symptoms.  Treatment What causes it? About 1% of the world’s population, mainly women, is affected by rheumatoid arthritis Dr Hilary Jones’ Healthcare guide – Essex, Kent and Sussex 117

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Dr Hilary Jones' Healthcare Guide - Essex, Kent & Sussex

editor’s letter
A healthy hello from Dr Hilary
NEWS and views
the big interview
Question time
A weighty issue
fitness for free
Top nosh
Make the right decision
choosing the best
breast cancer
cosmetic surgery
Ear, nose and throat
obstetrics and gynaecology
oral surgery

Dr Hilary Jones' Healthcare Guide - Essex, Kent & Sussex