Soft Tissue Rheumatism
Rheumatic diseases do not only affect the joints causing arthritis but can also affect tissues and structures around a joint, such as the tendons, ligaments, bursae and muscles. The inflammation of these tissues or structures causes bursitis (inflammation of small sac found between the bone and muscle-tendon) and tendinitis (inflammation of thick fibrous cords that attach muscles to bone) and are associated with pain and swelling.
Because these structures are near joints, pain in these areas may be mistaken for arthritis. The difference is that arthritis means inflammation in the joint itself, not in the structures around the joint. Soft-tissue rheumatic syndromes may affect the areas around the shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers, hips, back, knees, ankles and feet.
Pain is the main symptom of these conditions. Because the structures affected are located near the joint, moving the joint can be extremely painful and may be difficult. The pain is more prominent at night. Some conditions may cause redness, warmth or swelling in the affected area. Most of these conditions occur suddenly, may last for days, weeks or longer, and then go away. They can, however, occur again in the same place.