The locomotor system
Locomotor disorders are one of the most common causes of pain and disability, both in hospital and within the community. Conditions affecting the locomotor system are diverse, and range from very minor soft tissue conditions such as tennis elbow to very severe, life-threatening connective tissue diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus. The cardinal symptoms of joint disease are pain, stiffness, swelling, deformity, disability and systemic illness. It is often the history and the pattern of joint involvement that lead to the diagnosis of a rheumatic condition. Locomotor pain is often related to movement, and it is important to enquire whether the pain gets better with rest or improves with increased activity. Rheumatological complaints may have a long history, so it is important to establish whether there is any locomotor system problem in the past medical history. Inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis wax and wane over a prolonged period.