Derived from the Greek word Rheuma, which means swelling, rheumatism refers to a collection of painful conditions that can affect various parts of the body. It is not a single disease but rather a term that is generally assigned to different problems associated with the muscles and joints, and bones and tendons. In some cases, rheumatism may also affect the internal organs such as the lungs, the heart, the kidneys and even the skin.
As a result, there are different types of rheumatism depending on what part of the body is affected. Some common types are:
Rheumatism is also referred to as fibromyalgia or fibromyositis and is more evident in the elderly and middle-aged though it can affect people from all age groups.
Rheumatism is dreaded by all of us, not because it is life threatening, but because of the extent to which it threatens the quality of life. The condition can be severely debilitating, leaving you confined to the bed at times. Rheumatism neednt always take such control over your life however, and there is a lot that can be done to cope with the condition and continue to live a life of relative normalcy.
The most predominant symptom of rheumatism is pain. There could be pain in the joints and muscles, or stiffness and aching that seems to have no specific cause. This pain may be localized affecting just a specific area, but could then travel to another part of the body altogether. Most common areas of pain include the knees, legs, hands, arms, shoulders, back, chest, and hips. Other rheumatism symptoms are:
A typical rheumatic ‘attack’ starts off with the swelling of a joint (the knee or the ankle for example). The skin over the joint becomes hot and reddened and the pain spreads to other joints over the next few days. During this time, any movement aggravates the pain and bed rest is absolutely necessary. Rheumatic attacks may be seasonal and may appear and disappear with no discernible cause. Very often the first attack may be dismissed as a one-off event and the full effect of the disease may not be realized until many attacks and several months or years later. Along with the pain and swelling, there is a fever along with complications to the cardiovascular system in some cases.
Although there have been great advances in medicine in the past century, there is still little that we know for certain about the causes for rheumatism. There are different opinions amongst experts about what the causes of rheumatism are, and the conditions that could trigger a rheumatic attack. These include:
Rheumatism home remedies are varied and involve a number of unusual as well as easily available ingredients and methods. There is no known natural cure for rheumatism however, and home remedies cannot be relied on as an alternative to conventional rheumatism treatment. While there are many home remedies for rheumatism that may help manage pain and restore normalcy, the effects of most of these alternative treatments have not been adequately researched. Please keep your health care provider informed about any alternative treatments that you wish to try out, particularly when using herbal remedies or supplements, because of possible interactions. Here are some popular rheumatism treatments that you can try in combination with your medical treatments:
Although your diet may not always have a direct bearing on the development of rheumatism, in some cases it may be a contributing factor. Whether or not, dietary factors are responsible for your condition, it is important that you make certain changes to your diet to facilitate healing and to restrict the frequency and severity of symptoms. While the effects of dietary modifications may be marginal, there is little doubt that unhealthy dietary practices can severely aggravate the symptoms. Studies have been conducted into the effects of various dietary supplements, and while most studies are inconclusive, certain supplements and nutrients have been shown to be beneficial.
Hot and cold treatment has been proved helpful in relieving pain from rheumatism. This is mainly effective for the treatment of swollen joints, muscles and bones especially those on the hands and feet. You will need two basins of water one filled with hot water and the other with cold water. The temperatures should be hot and cold enough to be bearable and not harm the skin with extreme temperatures. Make sure that there is enough water to immerse the entire foot or hand. First place the foot or hand in the hot water for three minutes and then into the basin with cold water for the next three minutes. This should be repeated a minimum of seven times always ending with hot water. Do this up to three times a day for the best results.