About rheumatic disease

Rheumatic disorders is a term used to describe a range of conditions caused by inflammation and disruption to the immune system, leading to damage or destruction of bones, joints, cartilage and surrounding tissues. Arthritis and related conditions are the second most common cause of days off work in both men and women.

In the UK today, rheumatic disorders, which cover over 200 different diseases, are extremely common and affect over eight million people of all ages and the numbers are rising each year.  Over three million adults are physically disabled and one in every thousand children suffer from arthritis. At a personal level, arthritis is devastating, particularly for young people in their 20s and 30s.  Around 50% of people of working age who are diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis cannot work due to chronic pain and fatigue, depriving them of their independence and self-esteem.

Most rheumatic diseases affect bones and joints but there are other diseases, such as lupus, that affect other systems in the body as well.

Osteoarthritis
OA is a type of arthritis in which the lining of the joint surfaces erodes. About 8 million people in the UK are affected by some degree of OA.

Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a loss of bone density and to an extent is a natural consequence of ageing affecting around 3,000,000 in the UK.  It is much more prevalent in women after the menopause.  Around 60,000 hip fractures occur in the UK as a result of osteoporosis.

Paget's disease
Paget’s disease causes pain and deformity due to thickened bones, especially the spine and skull.  Around 5 in every 100 people over the age of 50 have Paget’s disease.

Psoriatic Arthritis
Psoriatic arthritis causes pain and swelling in joints and skin and is related to the skin disorder, psoriasis. Around one in 14 people with psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis
RA affects fingers, toes, wrists and other joints causing them to become stiff, swollen and in severe cases, permanently mis-shapen. More than 385,000 people have RA.