A chronic inflammatory disorder which can affect more than just the joints, Rheumatoid arthritis. Often in people, the condition can damage a wide variety of body systems, including the skin, eyes, lungs, heart and blood vessels.
An autoimmune disorder, rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system accidentally attacks your own body’s tissues. This can grow worse.
Unlike the wear-and-tear damage of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of the joints, causing painful swelling. This further, can result in bone erosion and joint deformity.
The inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis is what can damage other parts of the body as well.
While new types of medications have improved treatment options dramatically, severe rheumatoid arthritis can still cause physical disabilities.
Symptoms: Signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may include,
- Tender, warm, swollen joints
- Joint stiffness that is usually worse in the mornings and after inactivity
- Fatigue, fever and loss of appetite
Rheumatoid arthritis initially targets the smaller joints first tends to affect your smaller joints first — particularly the finger joints and toe joints.
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 your body.
About 40 per cent of the people who have rheumatoid arthritis also experience signs and symptoms that don’t involve the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect many non-joint structures, including:
- Salivary glands
- Nerve tissue
- Bone marrow
- Blood vessels
In Rheumatoid arthritis, the signs and symptoms may vary in severity and may even come and go. Periods of increased disease activity, called flares, alternate with periods of relative remission.
There is arthritis disappears over time too. But, over time, rheumatoid arthritis can cause joints to deform and shift out of place.
Should one see the doctor?
Make an appointment with your doctor if you have persistent discomfort and swelling in your joints.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Causes
The causes for severe pain, Rheumatoid arthritis & osteoarthritis to sprout on a whole scale is:
Comparing rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system attacks the synovium — the lining of the membranes that surround your joints.
- The resulting inflammation thickens the synovium, which can eventually destroy the cartilage and bone within the joint.
- The tendons and ligaments that hold the joint together weaken and stretch. Gradually, the joint loses its shape and alignment.
- Over the decades the doctors don’t know what starts this process, although a genetic component appears likely.
- Moreover, our genes don’t actually cause rheumatoid arthritis, they can make you more susceptible to environmental factors. Now, the environmental factors include infection with certain viruses and bacteria and that may trigger the disease.
Osteoporosis is none other than the increased risk coming from rheumatoid arthritis. When our body is subject to more medications for a longer period the risk grows naturally.
This condition weakens your bones and makes them more prone to fracture.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Complications
Rheumatoid arthritis increases your risk of developing:
- Rheumatoid nodules. These firm bumps of tissue most commonly form around pressure points, such as the elbows.
- Dry eyes and mouth. People who have rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to experience Sjogren’s syndrome, a disorder that decreases the moisture in eyes and mouth.
- The disease itself and many of the medications used to combat rheumatoid arthritis can impair the immune system, leading to increased infections.
- Abnormal body composition. The proportion of fat to lean mass is often higher in people who have rheumatoid arthritis, even in people who have a normal body mass index (BMI).
- Carpal tunnel syndrome. If rheumatoid arthritis affects your wrists, the inflammation can compress the nerve that serves most of your hand and fingers.
- Heart issues. Increases the risk of hardened and blocked arteries, as well as inflammation of the sac that encloses your heart.
- Lung disorders. Can increase the risk of inflammation and scarring of the lung tissues, which can lead to improper breathing patterns.
- Increased risk of lymphoma, a group of blood cancers that develop in the lymph system.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk factors
- Factors that may increase your risk of rheumatoid arthritis include:
- Your sex. Women are more likely than men to develop rheumatoid arthritis.
- Rheumatoid arthritis can occur at any age, but it most commonly begins in middle age.
- Family history. If a member of your family has rheumatoid arthritis, you may have an increased risk of the disease.
- (FYI) Cigarette smoking increases your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, particularly if you have a genetic predisposition for developing the disease.
- Smoking also appears to be associated with greater disease severity.
- Environmental exposures. Although poorly understood, some exposures such as asbestos or silica may increase the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
- Emergency workers exposed to dust from the collapse of the World Trade Center are at higher risk of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.
- Especially, women of age 55 and younger who are overweight or obese appear to be more prone to developing arthritis.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosis
Rheumatoid arthritis can be difficult to diagnose in its early stages because the early signs and symptoms mimic those of many other diseases. There is no one blood test or physical finding to confirm the diagnosis.
- Blood tests
People with rheumatoid arthritis often have an elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR, or sed rate) or C-reactive protein (CRP), which may indicate the presence of an inflammatory process in the body.
- Imaging tests
MRI and ultrasound tests can help your doctor judge the severity of the disease in your body.
And More Diagnosis Information Include:
C-reactive protein test
- Rheumatoid factor
- Show more related information
Apparently, the subjects prove otherwise stating there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis.
But clinical studies indicate that remission of symptoms is more likely when treatment begins early with medications known as disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs).
Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment
The different types of medications recommended by your doctor will depend on the severity of your symptoms. The pre-phase symptoms help you understand and taking medications initially can help reduce arthritis.
Side effects vary but may include liver damage, bone marrow suppression and severe lung infections.
Doctors usually recommend the natural way to reduce the pain before prescribing the medication. The therapist may also suggest new ways to do daily tasks, which will be easier on your joints.
If medications fail to prevent or slow joint damage, surgery may help restore your ability to use your joint. It can also reduce pain and improve function.