The rheumatic diseases and the field of rheumatology encompass a wide range of medical conditions affecting multiple organ systems. These conditions reflect diverse pathogenic mechanisms and result in functional limitations, diminished quality of life, and increased mortality for patients. This results in an ever-present dilemma for the field.
Most of the lay public and policymakers around the world do not know about many of the rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs), and even if they are familiar, there is a broad lack of awareness of the complexity of this area of medicine. To further public awareness and support policies directed to lessen the impact of these diseases, a working group from the ACR and EULAR, including a patient representative and an allied health professional, have developed a formal description of these conditions.
The goal of this effort was to create a succinct general statement describing RMDs in language that can be used in conversations with the lay public, media, practitioners who care for patients with RMDs, and various stakeholders and that applies to both adults and children.
The consensus statement describing RMDs is as follows:
“Rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) are a diverse group of diseases that commonly affect the joints, but can also affect the muscles, other tissues, and internal organs. There are more than 200 different RMDs, affecting both children and adults. They are usually caused by problems of the immune system, inflammation, infections, or gradual deterioration of joints, muscle, and bones. Many of these diseases are long term and worsen over time. They are typically painful and Iimit function. In severe cases, RMDs can result in significant disability, having a major impact on both quality of life and life expectancy.”