Rheumatism (roo-muh-tism) and arthritis are terms often used interchangeably. Arthritis is a general term used to describe joints affected by inflammation or degenerative changes and is only one of the many conditions categorized as rheumatic (roo-mah-tik) disease. Rheumatoid arthritis is a form of arthritis that can cause inflammation in the lining of joints and/or other internal organs. Both diseases can strike any person, at any age, including children, and both occur more often in women than in men. The exact cause of rheumatic disease is unknown, although both immunologic (ihm-you-no-LAW-jick) and infectious factors have been implicated. There is currently no cure for arthritis, but treatments are available to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, prevent crippling effects, and improve the patient's quality of life. Symptoms of rheumatic disease include pain, swelling, or stiffness in the joints. For more information, contact a health care professional.