Rheumatoid Arthritis: You Need To Know

What is Rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune and inflammatory disease that causes pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints. RA affects the hands and feet joints on both sides of the body, distinguishing it from other forms of arthritis. It leads to bone erosion and joint deformity. The disease may also affect many other body systems, such as skin, lungs, eyes, nerves, heart, and blood vessels.

What are the causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis?

In rheumatoid arthritis, the body’s natural defense system confuses healthy cells of joint lining with abnormal body cells and attacks them. It is usually the inflammation associated with RA that damages joints and other areas associated.

The exact cause of this disease is not known, although genetics appears to play a role. People with certain genes are more likely to have rheumatoid arthritis after a particular viral or bacterial infection. Other risk factors include being a woman, middle or old age, family history, smoking, and obesity.

What are the signs and symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis?

The immune cells attack the joint lining leading to inflammation and periods of flare or exacerbations. It is during these periods that most of the clinical signs and symptoms appear. The symptoms in RA are as follows

RA affects the smaller joints of the hand and feet first and then progresses to the hips, knees, ankles, elbows, and wrists. More than one-third of the people with RA may experience symptoms of areas other than joints. These areas can be skin, heart, lungs, eyes, kidneys, nerves, and blood vessels. RA complications include osteoporosis, infections, dry mouth and eyes, and heart or lung problems.

How to make a diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is diagnosed based on signs and symptoms, medical history, physical examination, and diagnostic tests.

Physical examination includes checking warmth, redness, tenderness, swelling, movement, deformity, reflexes, and strength of joints.

Many tests are performed to confirm the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. These tests are

Imaging tests like X-rays, MRI, and ultrasound are also performed to judge disease severity.

What is the prognosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis?

The disease has no cure, and the treatment focuses on managing the symptoms. Early diagnosis — within six months — is crucial for treatment to reduce joint damage and improve quality of life. Prognosis is much worse among patients with a positive rheumatoid factor or Anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide test. The disease is not fatal. Although, in some patients, the life expectancy may shorten by up to 10 years due to RA complications.

What are the treatments of Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Fortunately, clinical studies report disease remission in patients who adhere to the treatment. Depending on disease severity, the following drugs may be recommended,

What are the physical therapies for Rheumatoid Arthritis?

A therapist can teach a person exercises to keep their joints flexible. They can suggest new and effective ways of doing daily tasks that are easier on joints. They may advise the use of assistive devices such as a cane to avoid stressing the joints.

What are the surgical treatments of Rheumatoid arthritis?

If medications and therapies don’t work, surgeries may become necessary to repair damaged joints. Surgery may involve the following procedures

What are interventional pain procedures in Rheumatoid arthritis?

Ultrasonography-guided intraarticular steroid injection is one of the very important treatments for Rheumatoid arthritis.

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