Peer Reviewed
Rheumatology clinic

Soft tissue rheumatic disorders. Part 1. Aetiology and diagnosis

Anna Finniss, Mark Arnold
In soft tissue rheumatic disorders, it is important to distinguish noninflammatory causes, such as biomechanical abnormalities or tendon changes with ageing, from inflammatory causes, such as systemic rheumatic or other diseases.
Key Points

    The General Practice Activity in Australia 2007-08 report estimated that musculoskeletal problems are the fourth most common reason for consultations in general practice (behind respiratory, general and cardiovascular conditions) and account for about 17 of every 100 patient encounters.

    In referring to these problems, patients often ask what is the difference between arthritis and rheumatism? Simplistically, we might apply the term ‘arthritis’ to articular complaints pertaining to the joint and its capsule and reserve the terms ‘rheumatism’ or ‘rheumatic disorder’ for complaints of the adjacent soft tissues, the subject of this series of two articles.

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