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.

Cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2)

Protein complex that catalyzes two steps in prostaglandin biosynthesis.

Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan)

Type of drug called an alkylating agent that is also used as an immunosuppressant to treat autoimmune diseases such as severe, refractory rheumatoid arthritis. Also used to treat severe complications of lupus, myositis, scleroderma, and vasculitis. It was first developed as a cancer drug. Blocks the production of DNA inside certain types of cells, including immune cells. The cells then die, and they can no longer play a role in certain autoimmune diseases. May have severe side effects, including nausea and vomiting, and may also increase the risk of certain infections, such as herpes zoster or shingles.

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Cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune, Gengraf)

Used to prevent organ rejection in people who have received a liver, kidney, or heart transplant. It is usually taken along with other medications to allow the new organ to function normally. Also used to treat severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and a certain skin condition (severe psoriasis). Belongs to a class of drugs known as immunosuppressants, and works by slowing down the body’s defense system (immune system) to prevent the body from rejecting a transplanted organ, further damaging the joints (in RA patients), or further damaging the skin (in psoriasis patients). For the treatment of psoriasis or arthritis, it is generally used to treat people who cannot take other medications or have not found relief from other treatments.


Any of numerous hormone-like, low-molecular-weight proteins, secreted by various cell types, that regulate the intensity and duration of immune response and mediate cell-cell communication.

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.

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