Causes of Rheumatic Diseases
The causes of rheumatic diseases vary depending on the type of disease. Researchers have pinpointed the cause or causes of some rheumatic diseases, such as infectious arthritis and gout.
The causes of most rheumatic diseases are still under investigation. In osteoarthritis, excessive stress on the joint, from repeated injury or inherited cartilage weakness, may play a role. In lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and scleroderma, the combination of genetic factors that determine susceptibility, the influence of certain hormones, and environmental triggers are believed to be important.
Scientists are also studying the risk factors that determine why some people develop rheumatic diseases and others do not. For example, being overweight increases the likelihood that a person will develop osteoarthritis. The chance of developing osteoarthritis also increases with age. Genes and family history play a role in many rheumatic diseases including gout, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, ankylosing spondylitis, scleroderma, and some others.
Certain rheumatic conditions, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, and fibromyalgia, are more common among women. This indicates that hormones or other male-female differences play a role in the development of these conditions.
Rheumatic Diseases Diagnosis
Diagnosing rheumatic diseases can be difficult because some symptoms and signs are common to many different diseases. A general practitioner or family doctor may be able to evaluate a patient or refer him or her to a rheumatologist: a doctor who specializes in treating arthritis and other rheumatic diseases.
The doctor will review the patient’s medical history, conduct a physical examination, and obtain laboratory tests and X-rays or other imaging tests. The doctor may need to see the patient more than once to make an accurate diagnosis.
Source: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases