Rheumatology (ancient Greek rheuma, "current", "flow") is a specialist discipline of internal medicine and deals with over 400 diseases that are classified as rheumatic diseases.
The first clinical description was given by Guillaume de Baillou (1538-1616), who, according to the body fluid theory prevalent in Renaissance medicine, believed that mucus flowed from the brain to the extremities.
Rheumatic diseases mainly comprise chronic inflammatory conditions caused by the immune system, which, depending on the disease, mostly affect joints and bones, connective tissue, muscles and vessels, but in principle can occur in any organ system. The causes are diverse and complex and in many respects, according to current knowledge, not yet fully understood.
The diagnosis of a rheumatic disease requires a detailed medical history and a clinical examination as well as laboratory tests of blood samples. Furthermore, a puncture of inflammatory swollen joints, with subsequent examination of the obtained punctate, may also be necessary to establish the diagnosis.
Due to the continuous scientific progress in the past decades, effective new therapy options have been developed for many rheumatic diseases, which, in addition to reducing the symptoms of discomfort, can above all prevent progressive, irreversible damage to the affected joints or organs.