Rheumatic Diseases

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Rheumatism – or "rheumatic diseases" in medical language – includes more than 200 different diseases of the back, joints, bones, and soft tissues, which are often caused by inflammation.

Anyone who speaks of rheumatism is usually referring to rheumatoid arthritis, where a number of joints can become permanently inflamed, gradually deform, and stiffen; muscle strength also decreases. Rheumatic diseases affect people of all ages, but women more often than men.

  • Rheumatic diseases are classified among the autoimmune diseases. This means that the immune system mistakenly evaluates certain body cells to be foreign substances and attacks them, resulting in inflammatory reactions. With rheumatoid arthritis, the autoimmune reaction particularly affects the joints.

  • The causes and mechanisms of rheumatic diseases are not yet fully known. It is suspected that genetic predispositions and certain viral or bacterial infections could be triggers. Smoking may possibly contribute to the development of rheumatoid arthritis and may adversely affect the course of the disease.

  • Active and passive physical exercises are very important to promote and maintain the existing range of motion and function despite the rheumatic disease. Have a specialist instruct you.

Your guide:

Your checklist:

Rheumatic diseases take their own individual course. As time goes by, physical symptoms, such as inflammation, pain or mobility impairment, may increase progressively or remain unchanged for a long time. They can also occur in flare-ups and decrease again.

In addition, there are sometimes unspecific symptoms such as tiredness, fever or loss of appetite, which makes the diagnosis difficult to establish at the beginning.

Difficulties manifest themselves for those affected in everyday life, for example, when getting up, putting on clothes, or when cooking (e.g. when opening packaging, bottles or glasses).

  • The medication therapy of a rheumatic disease is put together specifically for each individual. It is determined on the basis of the diagnosis, the stage of the disease, the symptoms and your personal, previous experience with the medication. Rheumatic diseases are chronic, meaning they cannot be cured. Disease-modifying medication is designed to stop or slow down the progression of the disease, or to prevent permanent damage caused by the disease.

  • Non-medicinal measures, such as physiotherapy or occupational therapy, nutritional counselling, or psychological help, support the therapy.

  • After the acute pain has subsided, ask your physiotherapist to develop an exercise program for your joints, tendons and ligaments to prevent functional and mobility impairment.

  • To accomplish everyday life, don't hesitate to ask for help at work and at home or use devices such as aids to help you get dressed, shower stools or cutlery with adapted handles.

  • Living with a chronic illness requires very good self-management in order to be able to successfully master the various challenges in everyday life. concordiaCoach can support you in doing so.

  • The Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (BAG/OFSP/UFSP/FOPH) recommends the annual seasonal flu vaccination for chronically ill patients

We recommend that you use generic medicines instead of original preparations: They are just as effective and will allow you to save money thanks to their lower retention fee. If the classical, chemically-produced medication does not help sufficiently, so-called "biologics", which are biotechnologically produced drugs, can also be prescribed as support. These biologics also have imitation products, called biosimilars. Ask your doctor for such alternatives. You can also use our search function to find the right imitation product.

Your guides:

Your checklists:

Further information:

The Swiss Federal Office of Public Health:
Seasonal flu vaccination

Generic medicine: search function
(available in German, French and Italian)

Individual health situation

Medication brochure 
to print out (PDF)
(available in German and French)

Thanks to new therapy methods and medication, operations for rheumatic diseases are rarely necessary. The goal of the treatment is always the regression of the symptoms – and this, in the best case, without surgical intervention.

If medication, along with further supportive measures, is not in a position to stop the chronic inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis, an operation may be worth considering. Possible supportive interventions include the removal of the inflamed synovial membrane, joint prostheses, joint fusion (arthrodesis), and the reduction, or restoration, of tendons and ligaments.

Do you need surgery?

CONCORDIA has commissioned the institute B,B,S. Economic Consultants in Basel to evaluate the inpatient treatment of rheumatic diseases in all Swiss acute care hospitals – independently, neutrally, and according to statistical quality criteria.

The quality of inpatient treatment was assessed, along with the length of stay and the hospital costs. 

  • During a personal conversation, we will show you, on the basis of the results, which hospitals throughout Switzerland have excelled over the years in the treatment of rheumatic diseases in terms of quality and efficiency.

  • Use our consulting offer to find out which hospital is most suitable for your treatment.

  • Naturally, you still have the choice of when and where you would like to be treated, in line with your basic and supplementary insurances.

If you are unsure about whether the operation is necessary, you can seek an independent and neutral second medical opinion. This way, you will learn about additional therapy alternatives. If you are covered by a hospital insurance at CONCORDIA, a second medical opinion is free of charge if you apply for it via the Lucerne Cantonal Hospital (LUKS).

Personal consultation:
+41 41 228 09 94

Advice on hospital choice

 Advice on a second opinion

Your guides:

Further information:

The aftercare of inpatient medical or surgical treatment of a rheumatic disease can vary in many ways depending on your medical and personal needs.

The goal is always to achieve the greatest possible independence in managing the disease and to maintain your autonomy in your private as well as your professional life.

  • One of the most effective measures is a correctly adjusted medication. Take your medication consistently and according to the medical prescription. This way, it can positively influence the course of your rheumatic disease. It can take time and patience to find the medication that work best for you and that you tolerate the best.

  • Use our helpful guides if you find it difficult to take the medication (e.g. due to limited functionality and strength in the fingers).

  • Physiotherapy, and possibly occupational therapy – even when self-trained – can support you in maintaining your mobility, strength and functionality. Plan your appointments for outpatient therapy so that you have enough time to go back and forth relaxed. Think about how best to get there, find out about public transport connections, or ask family members if they can drive you.

  • Outpatient or inpatient rehabilitation can support you in coping better with the illness in everyday life, in participating in public life again, in maintaining the ability to work, or in preventing an increased need for care.

  • Living with a chronic illness requires very good self-management in order to be able to successfully master the various challenges in everyday life. concordiaCoach can support you in doing so.

You can save on costs if you choose generics and purchase your medication via a mail order pharmacy. Ask the doctor treating you for generic medication, especially when the doctor writes a new prescription.

Your guides:

Further information:

Medication brochure 
to print out (PDF)
(available in German and French)

Generic medicine: search function
(available in German, French and Italian)
Invoicing of 
benefits and benefit check

Assessment questionnaire
Individual health situation

Give us your feedback: What experiences have you had with the CONCORDIA Health Compass? Do you have questions about using it?
What suggestions do you have for us? Or maybe you didn't find what you were looking for?
Call us on +41 41 228 09 94. Or write your message to healthcompass@concordia.ch.

We would be happy to provide further assistance.