'Rheumatism' is a traditional and non-specific term used in the East and West to see a variety of pains affecting the bones, articulations, skin, heart, kidneys, bronchi. This term is rapidly to fall out of favour in the western world today because modern healing system has discovered that almost all these conditions have plenty aetiologies (causes) requiring many Treatments.
You can say they are word mainly used during the Chinese (& traditional) organizations; it's also used because of a minority of Westerners into homeopathic and complementary treatment. The only common characteristics among these weather conditions are: 1) they cause maintained chronic pain, and 2) they are very difficult to treat.
'Arthritis' is a broad term refers to inflammed joints, but doesn't say anything virtual cause. Includes conditions like OsteoArthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriatic Arthritis, infective Arthritis, gouty Arthritis, etcetera.
Generally, I'd divide Arthritis to bar 2 big groups:
1) OsteoArthritis (OA)
This is primarily a 'wear and tear' condition affecting older people. Arises from overuse (e. f. marathon runners), previous sprains (football players), overweight, genetics. A lot of mature Asian women get OA throughout the knees while the Americans and Europeans understand it in the hips. The damage is more mechanical than inflammatory. So you get pain in until midnight the day after a large number of walking and climbing stairway.
Because it's mainly a mechanical problem, Treatment with painkillers is just a temporary solution. Long-term upgrades are more important - drop some pounds, mobility and muscle-strengthening measures, reduce all kinds of earning weight-bearing activities (walking, diving, running, carrying heavy objects). On his severe cases, surgery is actually always warranted.
2) Inflammatory ('Rheumatic') Arthritis
This group comprises the various types of Arthritis which are primarily inflammatory, not mechanical, as the name indicated. They usually result inside auto-immune condition, which causes the body's defense mechanisms to go haywire and invade the joints and other parts of the body. E. g. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), SLE (skin, liver, joints, brain), psoriasis (skin, joints), ankylosing spondylitis (back, heart), all about gout (joints, skin, kidneys), rheumatic root disease/fever (joints, heart, skin). All these conditions require different sorts Treatment.
I'll talk a small bit about RA, the commonest condition in this group. Unlike OA, RA can occur each time and is usually hereditary (we get a test for the RA element in the blood). Pain is usually early in the day, worse when it's frosty, and gets better with activity and use. That means an RA sufferer is afflicted with morning stiffness and ache, but gets better along with the afternoon when it's warmer while he has moved on just the bit.
Treatment, unlike OA, is primarily through drugs - painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs like in many cases are, cytotoxic drugs like sulfasalazine as well as all MTX. In Asia, Treatment is primarily through accupuncture, medicated plasters / ointments. With the vast arsenals of medication and non-drugs alternative Treatments you can buy, RA can be controlled superbly and the sufferer can really lead a very into action life. Many OA sufferers subsequently may eventually require surgery due to you don't have very finest drugs for OA..