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There are over 200 types of rheumatic disease and over nine million people in the UK have some form of arthritis. Arthritis means inflammation of the joints. Most people with arthritis will experience pain and some difficulty in moving around.

Arthritis affects people of all ages, including children. It is not clear what causes it and there is no cure at present. However, treatment can largely alleviate the symptoms and enable people to continue to live an active life, although some modifications may be necessary.

Rheumatic Conditions FAQs

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Systemic lupus erythematosis

Systemic lupus erythematosis (SLE or lupus) is an auto-immune disease in which the body’s immune system starts attacking itself instead of defending it. It can affect many different parts of the body.

Lupus is most often seen in young women and those of Asian and African-Caribbean descent. The cause is unknown. It usually starts with aches and pains in the joints – sometimes there will be an obvious attack whereas in others symptoms can be very mild. Inflammation is also involved. Lupus can affect people quite differently, and people often also have periods of active disease (flares) and times when the lupus disappears, either for a while or completely. Common symptoms include fever and tiredness, joint and muscle pain (although joint damage is rare, tendons may be inflamed and stiff, making it difficult to straighten the fingers). Skin rashes can also occur and may worsen after exposure to the sun or ultraviolet light. Lupus can also cause inflammation of the linings of the heart and lungs, which can cause chest pain or breathing difficulty.

Lupus can be treated and controlled. Steroids, anti-malarial drugs and immunosuppressants are used to treat the disease.