You woke up in the morning and noticed your muscles couldn’t move freely. Are you experiencing pain and swelling in your joints? Your daily activities like dressing up or simply walking are hampered? These problems may be due to several causes, and one of those can be rheumatoid arthritis.
What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid Arthritis, also referred to as RA, is an auto-immune inflammatory disorder that affects the joints. The disease affects the joint linings and causes severe pains and swelling.
The disorder can get chronic with age. With time, the inflammation can get worse, leading to joint deformities. The deformity often affects both sides of the body. Moreover, the situation can also develop into erosive arthritis, which causes bone erosion. And, if the disease is severe, the internal organs get affected too.
Causes Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
There is no clear cause of rheumatoid arthritis. However, diagnosis reveals that the condition occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the tissues in the body, specifically the joints.
Usually, the immune system produces antibodies for attacking viruses and bacteria that enter the body. When the immune system gets disrupted, it sends antibodies to attack the joints where they damage the tissue there. This interaction causes inflammation and swelling. Also, chemicals are released to damage the affected joint’s bones, cartilages, ligaments, and tendons.
Over time, untreated and progressive rheumatoid arthritis can degenerate joints completely, causing them to lose shape and position.
There are several factors that can increase a person’s susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis. Some of these are:
Medical research suggests that smokers have a greater chance to develop rheumatoid arthritis compared to people who do not smoke. Therefore, it is advised that people avoid smoking to reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
There is a link between hormones and rheumatoid arthritis. There is evidence that estrogen hormones increase women’s risk of developing the condition.
Evidence suggests that family history can be associated with rheumatoid arthritis. The disease is, however, not inherited because genes play a limited role in causing it.
Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Some symptoms signal the presence of rheumatoid arthritis. These symptoms occur in the joints. Although, they can appear on any organ of the body. Symptoms can be mild or severe.
A joint is a point where bones join together. People who suffer from this disease experience pains and discomfort in the joints in their hands, shoulders, arms, knees, hips, and other body parts. These pains can get severe over time.
Swelling Of The Joints
Rheumatoid arthritis can affect the tissues surrounding the body joints. When these tissues accumulate fluid, it leads to swelling. Swollen tissues usually get bigger or assume an irregular shape.
Stiffness Of The Joints
Pains and swelling in the joints lead to stiffness. Stiffness can make standing and walk difficult.
Persistent swelling and stiffness of the joint can lead to common deformities. Where the tissues cushioning the joints wear off completely, and the bones erode, the deformation will set it.
People who have rheumatoid arthritis may experience general body weakness and fatigue. In addition, they may find it challenging to move around and become dull.
Rheumatoid arthritis can cause a feverish feeling. In addition, the person’s temperature can rise, and the person may feel generally unwell. Symptoms occur in periods of flares or exacerbation and remission. During RA flares, these symptoms, especially swelling, become severe. This exacerbation often varies in duration and intensity.
Difficult situations can impact daily activities, like exercising, walking, driving, and working. In periods of remission, symptoms improve, and there is a relief. Sometimes, the symptoms may disappear.
Diagnosis Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
The early stages of rheumatoid arthritis can be challenging to diagnose. However, its symptoms are similar to those of other connective tissue diseases like psoriatic arthritis, osteoarthritis, lupus, etc.
During diagnosis, the rheumatologist will carry out the following:
The doctor will examine you for symmetrical joint swelling, stiffness, and abnormal pains. They will also check for warmth because the inflamed joint is warm most of the time.
The rheumatologist will carry out a test to look for proteins that may indicate the presence of RA, like C-reactive protein (CRP). The doctor may also test your blood for anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CPP) antibodies.
X-rays, MRI, and ultrasound tests will show the extent to which the RA in your system has developed.
Prevention of Rheumatoid Arthritis
There is no unique method for preventing rheumatoid arthritis. However, you can become less susceptible to it if you:
Aside from genetic factors, smoking most likely exposes one to rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, evidence suggests that smoking can aggravate the symptoms.
Medical researchers discovered that poor oral hygiene could open one up to the disorder. In addition, periodontal disease may put you at risk of getting RA. Maintaining a regular cleaning routine will help. Brushing, flossing, and quick medical checkups will help too.
Early treatment is vital in preventing RA from getting worse. In addition, it will avoid severe pains and swelling that may lead to joint deformity. When treating RA, doctors recommend that patients complete their medications for total relief.
Unfortunately, some patients do not meet their medications when they get relief.
Your doctor should determine when you have remission and stop or reduce the medication. Incomplete treatment can lead to a reversal or worse situation.
Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis
There is no permanent cure for rheumatoid arthritis. However, there are several ways to slow down the disease progression.
There are anti-rheumatics drugs that give the sufferer relief from the symptoms and slow down the exacerbation rate. These medications help to keep the condition in check.
Immunosuppressive drugs such as nitrogen mustard methotrexate, azathioprine, etc., reduce immune response and provide relief.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) reduce pains, swelling, and inflammation.
Therapy is very beneficial to people suffering from RA. Physical therapy helps exercise and massage the bones, joints, and muscles to improve flexibility and fitness. They treat inflamed areas with ice or heat packs.
Occupational therapy aims at improving your ability to carry out daily activities like walking, cooking, dressing, bathing, etc.
The medical procedure for RA is Arthrocentesis. Using a syringe to remove the inflamed fluid from the affected area. It is also called joint aspiration.
Surgery is not very common for RA. However, surgery relieves patients of the pains and restores functionality to them. Therefore, surgery procedures such as arthrodesis, joint replacement, and synovectomy are most common.
There is widespread acclaim that turmeric curcumin helps treat rheumatoid arthritis. Turmeric grows in India and Indonesia. This yellow spice is also called Indian Saffron and belongs to the ginger family.
The active ingredient in it that makes it valuable in rheumatology is Curcumin. Curcumin is antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. As a result, it helps to reduce joint pain, inflammation, and swelling.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic condition that can be treated with proper medications.