Looking for rheumatic disease types, treatments, and associated rheumatology definitions? From abatacept to WOMAC, learn about common terms related to arthritis and rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases. Looking for information about MACRA? See MACRA terms and definitions.


Decision analysis

Derivative of operations research and game theory that involves identifying all available choices and the potential outcomes of each, in a series of decisions that have to be made about patient care—diagnostic procedures, therapeutic regimens, and prognostic expectations; the range of choices can be plotted on a decision tree.


Study of populations, especially with reference to size, density, fertility, mortality, growth rate, age distribution, migration, and vital statistics.

Dendritic cells

Cells of neural crest origin with extensive processes; they develop melanin early.


Temporary mental state or chronic mental disorder characterized by feelings of sadness, loneliness, despair, low self-esteem, and self-reproach.


Rheumatic disease that is part of a group of conditions called inflammatory myopathies. Symptoms include a skin rash and muscle weakness that are both caused by vasculitis or blood vessel inflammation. Skin rashes on the face, knuckles, chest, back, elbows, or knees may appear first, then muscle weakness may follow. Some people with dermatomyositis may develop calcinosis or hard bumps under the skin. Affects both children and adults, and affects women more often than men.

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Diabetes mellitus

Chronic metabolic disorder in which utilization of carbohydrate is impaired and that of lipid and protein enhanced; caused by an absolute or relative deficiency of insulin and is characterized, in more severe cases, by chronic hyperglycemia, glycosuria, water and electrolyte loss, ketoacidosis, and coma. Long-term complications include neuropathy, retinopathy, generalized degenerative changes in large and small vessels, and increased susceptibility to infection.

Digital ulcers

Breaks in the skin that usually appear at the top of or underneath the fingernail. Can be extremely painful and can become infected, mainly due to the poor circulation and poor healing capacity, making daily activities very problematic.

Disease Activity Score (DAS)/Disease Activity Score in 28 joints (DAS28)

A combined index that measures disease activity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). It has been extensively validated for its use in clinical trials in combination with the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) response criteria. Its easy use also makes it possible to collect valuable information about the disease activity of the patient in daily clinical practice. Evaluation of response to a treatment can be made much easier and more objective using the DAS or DAS28. Just assess the number of swollen and tender joints and measure the erythrocyte sedimentation rate. The DAS will provide a number between 0 and 10, indicating how active the RA is at this moment.

Disease Activity Score in 28 joints using the C-reactive protein level (DAS28 CRP) / Disease Activity Score in 28 joints using the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (DAS28 ESR)

Measure of disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis, assessed using patient global health (patient self-assessment), tender joint counts and swollen joint counts (up to 28), and the C-reactive protein level (DAS28 CRP) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (DAS28 ESR).

Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)

Agents that apparently alter the course and progression of rheumatoid arthritis, as opposed to more rapidly acting substances that suppress inflammation and decrease pain, but do not prevent cartilage or bone erosion or progressive disability.

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