What is rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that causes pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints. It is one of the common type arthritis. The specific cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not known. Researchers suspect that two types of factors affect a person’s risk: susceptibility factors and initiating factors.
It occurs when the body’s (infection-fighting system) immune system, “attacks” the joints.
Gender, heredity, and genes largely determine a person’s risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis most likely occurs when a susceptible person is exposed to factors that start the inflammatory process.
RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS SYMPTOMS
In most of the cases, rheumatoid arthritis begins insidiously, and weeks or months may pass before the characteristic symptoms are bothersome enough to cause a person to seek medical care. Early symptoms may include fatigue, muscle pain, a low-grade fever, weight loss, and numbness and tingling in the hands.
However In few cases, these symptoms occur before joint pain or stiffness is noticeable.
Rheumatoid arthritis usually affects the same joints on both sides of the body.
How can I tell whether I have rheumatoid arthritis?
Only a doctor can tell you about RA. However there are few things for you to look at. For instance, rheumatoid arthritis usually starts by affecting the small joints in the fingers, the balls of the feet, and the wrists. It usually affects both the left and the right side at the same time. (Other types of arthritis tend to first affect larger joints, like the knees or hips. And they might affect one side much more than the other.)
RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS DIAGNOSIS
Instead, the diagnosis is based upon many factors, including the characteristic signs and symptoms, the results of laboratory tests, and the results of x-rays.
The following components of the medical evaluation are helpful in making a clinical diagnosis of RA
- A thorough medical history, with particular attention to joint pain and stiffness.
- A complete physical examination to assess for limited joint motion, extraarticular disease manifestations, and signs of diseases included in differential diagnosis.
- Basic and selected laboratory testing: Laboratory tests help to confirm the presence of rheumatoid arthritis, to differentiate it from other conditions, and to predict the likely course of the condition and its response to treatment.
- Selected imaging studies, including bilateral radiographs of the hands, wrists, and feet
Rheumatoid factor … An antibody called rheumatoid factor is present in the blood of 70 to 80 percent of people with rheumatoid arthritis. However, rheumatoid factor is also found in people with other types of rheumatic disease and in a small number of healthy individuals.
What happens as rheumatoid arthritis gets worse? — Even though it might start in the fingers and toes, rheumatoid arthritis can affect any of the joints. Sometimes it damages the joints forever. Plus, rheumatoid arthritis can cause problems in other parts of the body, such as the heart, lungs, or eyes.
Get treated early for rheumatoid arthritis — If your doctor tells you that you have rheumatoid arthritis, start treatment right away. Do not wait until your symptoms get worse. Getting treated early can help prevent a lot of the damage the disease can do to your body.
What are the treatments for rheumatoid arthritis? — There are dozens of medicines for rheumatoid arthritis. The right one for you will depend on:
- The results of certain blood tests
- How bad your symptoms are
- How many of your joints are affected
- What side affects you feel with the medicines you try
- What your X-rays look like
- How your disease has changed over time
In general, the treatment options include:
Medicines called “nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs,” also known as NSAIDs
Medicines called steroids
Medicines called “disease modifying antirheumatic drugs,” also known as “DMARDs”
What should I do to feel better?
You might want to avoid being active because you are in pain. But that can make things worse. It will make your muscles weak and your joints stiffer than they already are. So it is very important that you stay active. A physical therapist can help you figure out which exercises will do the most good.
Another thing you can do to on your own is to eat a healthy diet. People with rheumatoid arthritis are at risk for heart disease, so avoid fatty foods. Instead, eat lots of fruits and vegetables.