Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a long term chronic inflammatory disorder which can cause joint pain. This disease mostly affects distal joints like hands, wrists and knees and it mostly occurs in women than men. In some people, Rheumatoid Arthritis can also damage other body system including skin, eyes, lungs, heart and blood vessels.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease which occurs when immunity system mistakenly attacks own body’s tissues. Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis affect the body in a different way. It affects the lining of joints causing a painful swelling which finally result in bone erosion and joint deformity.
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis:
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a complex chronic disease which is mainly recognized by the symptoms of inflammation and pain in the joints. Early symptoms include:
• Tender, warm and swollen joints.
• Joint stiffness usually becomes worse in the morning
• Fever, fatigue and weight loss
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a progressive disease. It should be treated without wasting a time. As the disease progresses, symptoms often spread to the wrists, knees, ankles, elbows, hips and shoulders. In most cases, symptoms occur in the same joints on both sides of body.
If Rheumatoid Arthritis is untreated or unnoticed at an early stage then inflammation starts to develop in other parts of the body causing serious complications which can affect other organs such as:
• Nerve tissues
• Bone marrow
• Blood vessels
If anyone experience above symptoms, then it is very important to diagnose and to start treatment at the earliest for avoiding severe complications in future.
Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis:
Rheumatoid Arthritis is mainly occurs due to the attack of immunity system on healthy body tissues. Immunity system mistakenly sends antibodies to the lining of joints where they attack tissues surrounding the joints, so that Synovium (lining of the membranes that surround joints) becomes sore and inflamed. It damages nearby bones, cartilages, tendons and ligaments.
As pert the study, Genes don’t actually cause rheumatoid arthritis, they can make person more susceptible to environmental factors such as infection with certain viruses and bacteria that can trigger the disease.
Diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis:
Rheumatoid arthritis is very difficult to diagnose in its early stages because the early signs and symptoms are similar to many other diseases. There is specific blood test or physical test to confirm the diagnosis. Doctor considers medical history of patients and family to determine Rheumatoid Arthritis. After the evaluation of symptoms, doctor orders blood test for rheumatoid factor and other antibodies.
Imaging tests such as X rays, ultrasound and MRI scans also used to determine level of joint or bone damage, joint inflammation, erosion and fluid buildup.
Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis:
There is no permanent cure for rheumatoid arthritis but treatment is used to control it. The aim of treatment is to stop the progression of the disease by reducing symptoms, controlling inflammation, minimizing joint as well as organ damage and improving physical function.
Various treatment options include:
Doctor prescribes medicines as per the severity of symptoms. General medicines include Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), steroids, Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biological agents.
• Physical therapy:
Physical or occupational therapist suggests various exercises to rheumatoid arthritis patients for keeping joints flexible. The therapist also suggests new ways to do daily tasks which will be easier for joints.
If medications failed to prevent or slow joint damage then doctor considers surgery to repair damaged joints. Surgery helps to restore the ability to use joint efficiently. It also reduces pain and correct deformities. Rheumatoid arthritis surgical procedures include synovectomy, tendon repair, joint fusion and total joint replacement.
• Lifestyle and Home remedies:
Certain home remedies and lifestyle changes also helpful to improve quality of life when living with Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Gentle exercises are very helpful to strengthen muscles around the joints. Gentle yoga is useful to regain strength and flexibility. Every patient should consult doctor before starting exercise. Patients should avoid heavy and strenuous activities.
Rheumatoid Arthritis patient can also apply heat or ice packs. Heat is used to ease pain and relax painful muscles. Cold reduces the sensation of pain. Cold also has a numbing effect and decreases muscle spasms.
Rheumatoid Arthritis patients should eat foods rich in of omega 3 fatty acids like walnuts, fishes, chia seeds, flax seeds as well as foods containing vitamins A, C and E like blueberries, strawberries, kidney beans, spinach and dark chocolate.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is manageable and controllable if detected at early stages. Certain lifestyle changes, medications and exercises are very helpful in the management of Rheumatoid Arthritis.