It is an autoimmune condition that causes damage to the joints such as arms and legs. Damage usually happens on both sides of the body.
What are the signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis? (1)
Signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis vary from patient to patient, but the most common signs and symptoms are:
- Stiffness in the joints
- Pain in the joints
- Swelling in the joints
- Symmetrical involvement of joint
- Joint deformity
- A general feeling of being tired and unwell
- You feel unsteady while walking
- Loss of function
- Loss of mobility
- Sudden weight loss
Signs and symptoms in rheumatoid arthritis affect both sides of the body, says CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION. Symptoms appear on and off. During the remission phase, symptoms might go away or become mild to moderate. During the flare phase, symptoms are severe and very difficult to bear.
What are the causes of rheumatoid arthritis?
The cause of Malfunction of the immune system that might lead to rheumatoid arthritis is still unclear. No one is aware of what happens with the immune system that leads to a sudden attack on healthy tissues. According to GENETICS HOME REFERENCE, genetic factors are more likely to cause rheumatoid arthritis in people. According to one other theory, rheumatoid arthritis is caused by any virus or bacteria if you have genetic factors of rheumatoid arthritis.
Synovium gets attacked by the immune system in rheumatoid arthritis. Synovium is a smooth joint lining. Due to this attack inflammation and pain occurs in the joint. Inflammation at the joint makes synovium thick and if this is left untreated it will invade the cartilage and destroy it. Cartilage in the joints is the connective tissue that provides cushioning to the bone ends. Tendons and ligaments that provide support to the joint can weaken and stretched. With all these happenings, the joint will lose its shape and configuration.
What are the complications associated with rheumatoid arthritis?
People with rheumatoid arthritis are at high risk of developing other conditions such as:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
Daily activities of human life are difficult to perform with rheumatoid arthritis. This condition is unpredictable and patients will never know when a flare might happen. This unpleasant flare can lead to:
- Difficulties in employment
- Anxiety and stress
Developing other conditions due to rheumatoid arthritis is very common. Other conditions involved are:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome: This condition happens in the hands in which itching, tingling, and numbness are felt in the thumb and fingers.
- Inflammation: it can affect the eyes, heart, blood vessels, and lungs of the body.
- Cervical myopathy: this condition happens due to inflammation and damage to the synovial tissues.
- Vasculitis: blood flow is affected in the blood vessels due to inflammation and it can affect other body parts as well.
Damage usually happens in tendons around the joints. You are at high risk of developing other infections such as cold, pneumonia, and flu. Other infections can also happen and this is due to medications such as immunosuppressants to manage rheumatoid arthritis. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis should make sure if their vaccinations are completed like the annual flu shot and others.
Diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis
It is very difficult to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis at an early stage because it is similar to many other conditions. If rheumatoid arthritis is diagnosed early it will help to manage the disease with treatment and the progression of the disease can be slowed down. According to CDC, if the diagnosis is completed within six months from the onset of signs and symptoms, treatment can help to manage the condition to a greater extent.
The doctor will check the extent of the inflammation and ask about the severity of the symptoms. Physical examination is also performed to check swelling, deformity, and functional restrictions. Here are some tests that are recommended by doctors:
Various blood tests are used by doctors to rule out other conditions similar to rheumatoid arthritis. Tests included are:
- ANTI-CYCLIC CITRULLINATED PEPTIDE (anti-CCP)
- C- reactive protein
- Rheumatoid factor
- Erythrocyte sedimentation rate
Imaging scans and MRI:
With the help of an X-ray and MRI, a doctor can identify the type and extent of rheumatoid arthritis. He will suggest medications according to the progression of the disease.
AMERICAN COLLEGE OF RHEUMATOLOGY (ACR) suggested the following criteria for diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis in 2017.
- Swelling is seen in one joint only and it does not cause any other problem.
- At least one result of a blood test should show the presence of rheumatoid arthritis
- Symptoms must be observed from the past six months
What is the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis? (2)
No specific cure is available for rheumatoid arthritis but with treatment, this can be managed to some extent. Recent advancements in treatment strategies have improved living with rheumatoid arthritis and increase the quality of life. Target to treat rheumatoid arthritis has increased the management of the disease. Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis includes:
- Home remedies
- Dietary changes
Medications of rheumatoid arthritis:
Many types of medications are available for treating rheumatoid arthritis. Some medications are used to reduce inflammation and pain. Some medications help in reducing the number of flares and damage that happens to your joint. Over-the-counter medications are recommended for inflammation and pain. OTC included are:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
These drugs slow the damage that occurs due to rheumatoid arthritis:
- DISEASE MODIFYING ANTIRHEUMATIC DRUGS:
These drugs will block the response by the immune system and will result in reducing the progression of rheumatoid arthritis.
A new generation of biologics works by targeting the immune system that causes inflammation. This treatment is given when people don’t respond to disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs.
- Janus kinase inhibitors:
These drugs are the type of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs and they also work the same by blocking the entire immune system. These are recommended to stop inflammation and damage to the joints.
Home remedies are recommended to improve the quality of life and they include:
- Get enough rest
- Apply heat and cold
- Try assistive devices