Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a chronic joint disease that damages the joints of the body. It is also a systemic disease that potentially affects the internal organs of the body. This can lead to disability.
Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common form of autoimmune, inflammatory arthritis in adults. It can affect anyone at any age. Usually, it develops between the ages of 40 and 60 and Over 70% of those affected are women.
Rheumatoid arthritis also affects children. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (formerly juvenile rheumatoid arthritis).that begins in people under 16 years of age is similar but not identical to the disease in adults.
Rheumatoid Arthritis(RA) is different from the most commonly seen form of arthritis: osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis, also called degenerative joint disease, is associated with joint injury and with the aging process (“wear and tear”). Rheumatoid Arthritis is an inflammatory process that affects the lining of the joints (synovium). It usually occurs in a symmetrical way—if one knee is affected, the other knee also is affected.
- The body accidentally starts making antibodies against its own tissues which attack the joints and they get them swollen up
- In the long run, the joint start becoming deformed and crooked and bend leading to
- If not treated for many years, the diseases become “burnt out” as the joints get fused leading to permanent deformity.
Many people with rheumatoid arthritis have difficulty carrying out normal activities of daily living, such as standing, walking, dressing, washing, using the toilet, preparing food, and carrying out household chores.
The common Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms interfere with the ability to work for many people and are the following
- Stiffness in the joints
- Inflammation around tendons
- Swelling around joints
- Bumps under the skin (rheumatoid nodules)
- Loss of appetite or lack of appetite
- Weight loss
- Myalgias (muscle aches)
- Anemia and tiredness
People with rheumatoid arthritis may experience an increase in symptoms, called “flares,” that can last for days or weeks. They may also have periods of remission where they have few or no symptoms.
Rheumatoid arthritis cause is unknown and the risk factors include:
- Genetics (inherited genes),
- Hormones (explaining why the disease is more common in women than men), and
- Possibly infection by a bacterium or virus.
Other environmental factors known to increase the risk for developing rheumatoid arthritis include:
- Tobacco smoking
- Silica exposure
- Periodontal (gum) disease.
Diagnosis & Treatment
First, the doctor will perform a physical and take a history of symptoms you are experiencing. Firstly, the joints will be examined to determine if there is inflammation and tenderness. Then the heart, lungs, eyes, mouth, and extremities are evaluated. Finally, the skin is examined for rheumatoid nodules.
Moreover, The doctor may order blood tests or X-rays to help diagnose the condition.
Many other diseases such as gout, fibromyalgia, and lupus may resemble rheumatoid arthritis, so the doctor will rule out these conditions before making a diagnosis of RA.RF and anti-CCP antibodies may be positive in 80% of the cases.
Despite significant advances in Rheumatoid Arthritis treatment over the past decades, there is no cure for it. The main aims of Rheumatoid Arthritis treatment are:
- Decrease the disease activity as much as possible so as to prevent joint damage as much as possible.
- Reduce pain and stiffness in affected joints as much as possible.
- Minimize any disability caused by pain, joint damage, or deformity.
- Treat other symptoms of the disease if they develop.
- Reduce the risk of developing associated conditions such as cardiovascular disease or ‘thinning of the bone’s (osteoporosis).
There are lifestyle changes you can make to help manage Rheumatoid Arthritis:
- Lose weight if you’re overweight.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Stop smoking.
- Do regular, gentle exercise. This can strengthen the muscles around your joints and lessen fatigue.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a lifelong disease and comes back if treatment stops. It’s important to see your doctor as soon as symptoms begin. The earlier you start the treatment, the better your outcome. Some of the damage from Rheumatoid Arthritis is irreversible, so finding the disease and treating it early is very important.