Welcome to the Rheuma@Web!




“Very few companies are using digital techology for new processes that radically improve how they function, that give them full benefit of all their employees’ capabilities, and that give them the speed of response they will need to compete in the emerging high-speed bsiness world.  Most companies don’t realize that the tools to accomplish these changes are now available to everyone. Though at heart most business problems are information problems, almost no one is using information well.”


Bill Gates


Are we using information well?  No, probaly not.  Galen (128–200AD) Greek physician and anatomist whose ideas dominated Western medicine for almost 1,500 years once asked what is the reason for the ‘disgraceful state of affairs’ for patients with ‘this extraordinary thing arthritis’.  He offered us dissipation, or ignorance, or both. Let us hope that dissipation is not the answer.  Ignorance is a much better candidate.  And ignorance remains the problem.  Not enough people know about arthritis.



Not enough is known about rheumatic diseases!


Education of the arthritic patient as well as the public are the main subject of the Icelandic Rheuma@Web.  Arthritis is indeed an ‘extraordinary thing’, and the study of it is fascinating.  Our hope is that this Rhema@Web will provide readers with a suitable introduction to the subject, and make some contribution, via you, the reader, to the final outdating of Galen’s comments.


Rheuma@Web is the homepage of the Arthritis Foundation of Iceland.  Iceland is a 100.000m2 volcanic island situated on the North Atlantic volcanic ridge in the North Atlantic Ocean.  The climate is temperate thanks to the Golf stream.  The general education level (population c:a 270.000) on the island is high.





It is well known that approximately 20% of all primary-care consultations involve disorders of the musculoskeletal system and 30% of all patients admitted to hospitals can be identified as having some problem in the musculoskeletal system. Thus, rheumatology education in its widest sense is essential, not only to specialists in the area of rheumatic disease, but to primary-care physicians (internists, family practitioners and pediatricians), orthopedic surgeons and many other physicians, as well as allied health professionals. In the wide area of health care professions, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, social workers and many others require knowledge of rheumatic disease. Within each of these fields there are specialists with expertise in the area of rheumatic disease, but all of these individuals care for patients with rheumatic diseases.



A common lay belief about arthritis is that it is an inevitable consequence of getting older, and that little or nothing can be done about it. In terms of public awareness, arthritis generally scores badly when compared with cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and other areas of medicine. There is very little appreciation of the numbers of patients affected by arthritis or the often devastating psychological, social or financial consequences of chronic pain and suffering or disability. Major sources of information for the public include newspaper or magazine articles, or radio or television programs. In order to encourage broader coverage and assure that the information provided is accurate, it is very important that all health care professionals involved in rheumatologic care learn to work with all available media, not least the Internet.  Access to education in rheumatology at all levels is essential for most health care professionals as well as the public.


Goals in chronic rheumatic diseases may include enhancement of psychological well being, maintenance of social interaction and employment, minimization of disability and handicap, and pain control.  The patients’ own feeling of control, or lack of it appears to be an important determinant of outcome.  There is an abundance of written material for patient self-learning.  Good examples include brochures developed by the Icelandic League Against Rheumatism (Gigtarfélag Íslands), Arthritis and Rheumatism Council (Gigtarráð Íslands) and more. In addition, disease-oriented special interest groups have come to fill a very important educational need.  Many different professionals have a role in patient education, including nurses, therapists, social workers, and others. The value of a multidisciplinary team approach to patient education, as in other aspects of arthritis management, has been stressed in the literature. While patient education in rheumatology is plausibly of great value, there is still much to be done to prove its worth and relative value in improving patient outcome.


In some countries, lay organizations work to improve knowledge and awareness of the rheumatic diseases, examples being the efforts of the Arthritis Foundation in the United States, the Arthritis and Rheumatism Council in the United Kingdom, the Canadian Arthritis Society and the Arthritis Foundation of Iceland. These organizations have and should have a major commitment to public education. At an international level, the efforts of ILAR and its affiliated organizations are laudable. However, it is the responsibility of all health care professionals working in the field to contribute to the slowly improving levels of education of the public worldwide.


Education in all aspects of rheumatology has advanced enormously over recent years but much has still to be done. Many professional groups, lay organizations, research units and others have developed a very active interest in rheumatologic education. Improvements in educational techniques, including goal setting, methods of education, and the measurement of outcome have helped the advances. In the future, the current revolution in information technology, with the introduction of a wider range of electronic aids to information transfer, should encourage a further decade of rapid growth in educational programs in rheumatology.


It is our hope, that you, weather you suffer from any rheumatic condition or not will benefit from browsing thorough these pages of the Icelandic Rheuma@Web. 


Sit back, pet your mouse and: Enjoy!


Julius Valsson MD editor