Analgesic: A medication or treatment that relieves pain.
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: One in which the immune system destroys or attacks the patient's own body tissue.
Cartilage: A tough, resilient tissue that covers and cushions the ends of the bones and absorbs shock.
Chronic disease: An illness that lasts for a long time.
Collagen: The main structural protein of skin, tendon, bone cartilage, and connective tissues.
Connective tissue: The supporting framework of the body and its internal organs.
Fibromyalgia: Sometimes called fibrositis, 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 hips. The disorder includes widespread pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbances.
Fibrous capsule: A tough wrapping of tendons and ligaments that surrounds the joint.
Flare: A period in which disease symptoms reappear or become worse.
Genetic marker: 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.
Immune response: 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.
Immune system: A complex system that normally protects the body from infections. It combines groups of cells, the chemicals that control them, and the chemicals they release.
Inflammation: A characteristic reaction of tissues to injury or disease. It is marked by four signs: swelling, redness, heat, and pain.
Joint: A junction where two bones meet. Most joints are composed of cartilage, joint space, fibrous capsule, synovium, and ligaments.
Joint space: The volume enclosed within the fibrous capsule and synovium.
Ligaments: Bands of cordlike tissue that connect bone to bone.
Muscle: A structure composed of bundles of specialized cells that, when stimulated by nerve impulses, contract and produce movement.
Myopathies: Inflammatory and noninflammatory diseases of muscle.
Myositis: Inflammation of a muscle.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): 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: 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 areas turn white, then blue, and finally red.
Remission: A period during which symptoms of disease are reduced (partial remission) or disappear (complete remission).
Sicca syndrome: A condition manifested by dry eyes and dry mouth.
Sleep disorder: One in which a person has difficulty achieving restful, restorative sleep. In addition to other symptoms, patients with fibromyalgia usually have a sleep disorder.
Synovium: A tissue that surrounds and protects the joints. It produces synovial fluid that nourishes and lubricates the joints.
Tender points: Specific locations on the body that are painful, especially when pressed.
Tendons: Fibrous cords that connect muscle to bone.
Vasculitis: Inflammation in the blood vessels. It may occur throughout the body.
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Date of Last Update: 07/27/12