Rheumatic Disease

Fibromyalgia, Arthritis & More

arthritis, knee arthritis, rheumatic disease
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A rheumatic disease is an illness that involves pain or inflammation in the muscles, joints or other tissues of your body. Fibromyalgia is currently classified as a rheumatic disease but there's considerable debate in the medical community about whether it should be considered rheumatic or neurological.

Rheumatic diseases are generally treated by rheumatologists.

More than 100 diseases, many of them autoimmune, are classified as rheumatic.

Some examples are:

Pronunciation: roo-MAT-ic

Fibromyalgia: Rheumatic or Neurological?

Fibromyalgia's classification as rheumatic has more to do with its history than what's currently known or believed about the condition. Rheumatologists are still generally the doctors of choice for treating fibromyalgia, but that may change down the road.

The reasons it's considered neurological include:

  • That the unique pain types of fibromyalgia are believed to originate in the brain and nerves rather than the muscles and other tissues;
  • Theories about imbalances in multiple neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that transmit signals through the brain;
  • Evidence of abnormalities in blood flow to multiple regions of the brain;
  • Evidence of abnormal connectivity between multiple regions of the brain.

On the rheumatological side, the role of inflammation in fibromyalgia is still not understood.

Some researchers hypothesize about inflammation in the fascia (a thin web of connective tissues that's throughout your body,) which points to rheumatology.

Some rheumatic diseases, including lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, may increase your risk of developing fibromyalgia.

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