Reprinted with permission from the National Institute of
Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
Arthritis literally means joint inflammation, but is often used to indicate a group of more than 100 rheumatic diseases. These diseases affect not only the joints but also other connective tissues of the body, including important supporting structures such as muscles, tendons, and ligaments, as well as the protective covering of internal organs.
AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE is one in which the immune system destroys or attacks the patient's own body tissue.
ANALGESIC is a medication or treatment that relieves pain.
CARTILAGE is a tough, resilient tissue that covers and cushions the ends of the bones and absorbs shock.
COLLAGEN is the main structural protein of skin, tendon, bone cartilage, and connective tissues.
CONNECTIVE TISSUE is the supporting framework of the body and its internal organs.
CHRONIC DISEASE is an illness that lasts for a long time.
FIBROUS CAPSULE is a tough wrapping of body tissue that surrounds the joint.
FLARE is a period in which disease symptoms reappear or become worse.
FIBROMYALGIA, sometimes called fibrositis, is a chronic disorder that causes pain and stiffness throughout the tissues that support and move the bones and joints. Pain and localized tender points occur in the muscles, particularly those that support the neck, spine, shoulders, and hip. The disorder includes widespread pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbances.
GENETIC MARKER is a specific tissue type or gene, similar to a blood type, that is passed on from parents to their children. Some genetic markers are linked to certain rheumatic diseases.
INFLAMMATION is a characteristic reaction of tissues to injury or disease. It is marked by four signs: swelling, redness, heat, and pain.
IMMUNE SYSTEM is a complex system that combines groups of cells, the chemicals that control them, and the chemicals they release, and that normally protects the body from infections.
IMMUNE RESPONSE is the reaction of the immune system against foreign substances. When this reaction occurs against substances or tissues within the body, it is called an autoimmune reaction.
JOINT is a junction where two bones meet. Most joints are composed of cartilage, joint space, fibrous capsule, synovium, and ligaments.
JOINT SPACE is the volume enclosed within the fibrous capsule and synovium.
LIGAMENTS are bands of cordlike tissue that connect bone to bone.
MUSCLE is a structure composed of bundles of specialized cells that, when stimulated by nerve impulses, contract and produce movement.
MYOPATHIES are inflammatory and noninflammatory diseases of muscle.
MYOSITIS means inflammation of a muscle.
NONSTEROIDAL ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DRUGS (NSAIDs) are a group of drugs, such as aspirin and aspirin-like drugs, used to reduce inflammation that causes joint pain, stiffness, and swelling.
RAYNAUD'S PHENOMENON is a circulatory condition associated with spasms in the blood vessels of the fingers and toes causing them to change color. After exposure to cold, these initial areas turn white, then blue, and finally red.
REMISSION is a period during which symptoms of disease are reduced (partial remission) or disappear (complete remission).
SICCA SYNDROME is a condition manifested by dry eyes and dry mouth.
SLEEP DISORDER is one in which a person has difficulty achieving restful restorative sleep (Level 4). In addition to other symptoms, patients with fibromyalgia usually have a sleep disorder.
SYNOVIUM is a tissue that surrounds and protects the joints. It produces synovial fluid that nourishes and lubricates the joints.
TENDER POINTS are specific locations on the body that are painful, especially when pressed.
TENDONS are fibrous cords that connect muscle to bone.
VASCULITIS is inflammation in the blood vessels. It may occur throughout the body.
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