Joint pain, muscle aches, full-body soreness — for some people, these can be signs of a cold or flu. But for some people, these are signs of a rheumatic disease or connective tissue disorder.
Rheumatic diseases typically affect the bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, and muscles. Sometimes, they can also impact your organs.
Connective tissue disorders impact the tissue that acts as “glue” in the body that gives body parts shape and helps them stay strong.
Some rheumatic diseases and connective tissue disorders are autoimmune disorders, meaning the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells.
At Stormont Vail Health, our rheumatology specialists are committed to helping you ease the symptoms of rheumatic disease and connective tissue disorders — such as pain, stiffness or swelling.
Your rheumatologist is important for helping you with your rheumatic disease or connective tissue disorder, but it’s still important to have a primary care provider as well. Your primary care provider can perform annual exams, diagnose and treat everyday illnesses, screen for other diseases and help you keep your entire body strong.
Medications for rheumatic disease or connective tissue disorders can be expensive, but we don’t want that to stand in your way. We work closely with pharmacies, insurance companies and other Stormont Vail physicians to find the best medication, at the best price. We aim to make sure that all patients get the care they need and deserve.
— Angela Dechand, MSN, BSN, RN, Clinic Nurse Manager of Infectious Disease, Neurology and Rheumatology at Stormont Vail
Conditions We Treat
There are more than 100 types of rheumatic diseases, and more than 200 types of connective tissue disorders.
At Stormont Vail, the most common conditions we treat include:
Rheumatoid ArthritisYour body attacks your own healthy tissues, affecting the lining of the joints. It causes pain and swelling in and around your joints.
Psoriatic ArthritisYour body attacks healthy tissue in the joints and skin. This causes swelling that triggers joint pain and stiffness. About 30 percent of people with psoriasis — a skin disease that causes scaly, itchy skin — develop psoriatic arthritis.
Osteoarthritis (Degenerative Arthritis)Your cartilage — the material that covers the end of each bone to cushion the bone and guide joint movement — wears down over time. As it breaks down, it causes pain, swelling and difficulty moving affected joints. Osteoarthritis most commonly occurs in the hips, lower back and neck, knees, fingers and big toes.
LupusYour body attacks your own healthy tissues and organs, and causes swelling. This swelling can affect many different parts of your body, including your joints, skin, blood cells, kidneys, heart, lungs, and brain.
Giant Cell Arteritis (Temporal Arteritis)The blood vessels in your head and scalp — particularly the ones above your temples — become swollen. The most common symptom is headache.
Ankylosing SpondylitisThe joints in your spine swell, leading to severe, long-lasting pain and discomfort. Over time, the vertebrae (bones in your back) can fuse together.
Polymyalgia RheumaticaThis disease causes widespread muscle pain, aching, and stiffness, particularly in the shoulders. The exact cause is unknown.
Raynaud's DiseaseThe blood vessels in your fingers and toes narrow when you’re cold or stressed. Blood can’t reach the surface of your skin, causing the skin to turn blue and white. When blood flow returns, your skin may be red, tingly, or throbbing.
Sjogren’s SyndromeYour body attacks the glands that make saliva and tears, causing dry mouth and dry eyes. Dryness can also affect any place that needs moisture, such as your throat, skin, and nose. In some patients, Sjogren’s affects other body parts, such as the joints, kidneys, blood vessels, lungs, digestive organs and nerves.
Our Treatments and Services
Many types of rheumatic disease and connective tissue disorders are chronic — they are long-lasting and cannot be cured.
However, that doesn’t mean we can’t treat the symptoms.
The rheumatology team at Stormont Vail is committed to helping you ease symptoms and live without being inhibited by your condition.
Diagnosis and treatment varies, as every patient has their own needs and goals. Some of our common treatments and procedures include:
- Medication infusions via an IV
- Oral or topical medication
- Joint injections to relieve pain caused by a chronic pain disorder
- Joint aspirations, to remove fluid from joints
- Biopsies, to analyze tissues and cells, and make a diagnosis
- Sialometries (also known as “spit tests”) to measure saliva flow. Abnormal results can point to Sjogren’s syndrome.
Since many medications for rheumatic disease or connective tissue disorders are highly potent — they can have a very powerful effect on the body — we also perform laboratory tests every 3 to 6 months for patients on these medications. This ensures that organs that could be affected, such as your liver or kidneys, are unharmed and functioning correctly.
Meet Our Rheumatologists
Our rheumatology team is dedicated to providing top-notch care for adults affected by a rheumatic disease or connective tissue disorder.