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Publication 49 "Inflammatory rheumatic diseases"

Published in June 2010 as part of the series of Federal Health Reporting ("Gesundheitsberichterstattung des Bundes")

GBE-Booklet 49: Inflammatory rheumatic diseases. Source: © RKI Source: © Robert Koch-Institut

ISBN 978-3-89606-204-8
ISSN 1437-5478
German version only

Inflammatory rheumatic diseases – Booklet 49 (PDF, 1 MB, File does not meet accessibility standards.)

Inflammatory rheumatic diseases are a heterogeneous group of often chronic immune-mediated disorders. They cause inflammatory reactions in various body tissues and primarily affect the musculoskeletal system, where they lead to joint pain (arthralgia), restricted mobility and, in some cases, irreversible damage and disability. Internal organs such as the heart and the kidneys can also be affected.

This GBE booklet deals with three main forms of inflammatory rheumatic disorders in adults: rheumatoid arthritis (RA), ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). It also has a separate section on inflammatory rheumatic diseases of childhood, focusing on the example of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). Important information on the epidemiology, treatment and consequences of these disease groups is available from the German rheumatic registries ("Rheumatologische Kerndokumentationen") for adults and children.

In Germany, an estimated 2% of the adult population and 15,000 children and adolescents suffer from inflammatory rheumatic disorders. An early diagnosis and the timely initiation of treatment are of crucial importance for the further course of these diseases. In many cases, however, they develop in a chronically progressive manner, even when optimum treatment is given.

Many patients suffer severe pain, serious physical impairments, a poor general state of health and reduced quality of life. If the illness continues for a long time, they often become disabled and unable to work and need help to cope with everyday life, in some cases requiring nursing care. There is a large – and to some extent insufficiently met – need for specialist rheumatology and rehabilitative services.

The estimated direct medical cost of inflammatory rheumatic diseases was approximately €3.6 billion in 2006. The increase compared to 2002 was primarily due to the growing use of new, highly effective, but expensive drugs.

Date: 14.06.2010