What is the Difference Between Arthritis and Rheumatism?

Published by Steve Hedberg on February 2, 2010 Under arthritis

There are a number of factors that can make it more difficult for the elderly to stand up on their own, but in most cases it is the consequence of conditions like arthritis.

Arthritis is a term used to describe a hundred different types of rheumatic disorders, but often this is something that is very confusing for those trying to understand arthritis, making it one of the most common misconceptions about arthritis. This is because the term arthritis and rheumatism are often used interchangeably, especially among older patients, leading to confusion as to what the difference is between the two medical terms.

What is Rheumatism?

At its most basic, arthritis is a rheumatic disorder, sometimes referred to as rheumatism. Rheumatism is a very general term that is used to describe medical conditions that affect a persons joints and cartilage, which acts as a connective tissue and suspension system around the joints.

Rheumatism is not commonly used by doctors to describe arthritis, nor is it as common in medical texts or studies, at least not in a scientific setting. This is because Rheumatism is a very generic word and doesn’t refer to a specific disease.

In the past, before much of the current scientific research regarding arthritis and other similar conditions took place, doctors often referred to people with arthritis as having a rheumatic disease, but today, they are more likely to use a much more specific description of the actual condition affecting the patient.

However, despite its lessened popularity, the word rheumatism and more specifically rheumatic diseases are still used in some contexts, but it is important to remember that it is not a specific disease, but rather describes the way a disease affects the body. It is also important to remember that arthritis is not the only type of rheumatic disease, so rheumatism can describe symptoms of a number of other conditions.

What is Arthritis?

While arthritis is a more specific term than rheumatism, it is still rather generic, because arthritis is not just a single disease. Instead, there are more than 100 different diseases identified as types of arthritis.

Diseases that are arthritic typically affect the joints in a body, with the way they affect the joints and which specific joints are affected often being used to identify the specific type of arthritis. Usually arthritis causes inflammation of the infected joints, as well as pain, stiffness, and a reduction of movement. In some cases, this leads to bone growths and deformities, however there are many other symptoms of arthritis. For example, it is common for arthritis to cause fatigue, reduction of appetite, and even eye problems.

It is also important to note that some types of arthritis share similarities with other diseases, which would not normally be associated with rheumatism. For example, psoriatic arthritis usually first causes psoriasis to develop, which is a skin condition that can cause scaly tough skin to develop on the body, with more traditional rheumatic symptoms developing later.

Understanding the Difference Between Arthritis and Rheumatism

Ultimately, both arthritis and rheumatism are rather generic terms, with rheumatism being used to describe joint related problems and arthritis being used to describe a group of similar diseases. Arthritis almost always carries with it rheumatic symptoms, so most types of arthritis can be classified as rheumatic diseases.

Even though arthritis is a more specific term, which describes similar medical conditions, it is still very general and does not describe a specific disease. Instead, there are many different types of arthritis, with the most common among the elderly being osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. However, arthritis can affect people of all ages, so it is not specific only to the elderly.

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