Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the joints, as well as many other vital organs. This disease causes the body tissue to be mistakenly attacked by its own immune system. Apart from the joints, Rheumatoid Arthritis can also affect the skin, lungs, heart, blood and so on.
Who is affected?
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic disease that usually affects middle aged people, although it can also strike younger and older ones. Researches show that Rheumatoid Arthritis affects twice as many women as man. Chances to be affected from RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) can also increase if you are a smoker or if you have a family history that implies this disease.
- Painful joints (smaller joints first – in the fingers, wrists and feet).
- Swollen joints
- A feeling of tenderness in your joints
- Difficulties to move your joints
- Both sides of your body will be affected (this disease is said to be symmetrical)
- Feeling fatigue
- Losing appetite
- Fever may appear
- Stiffness – often in the mornings or evenings
- Joint deformities – as the disease progresses, there might be severe damage to the cartilage and bone and they can become deformed.
- Firm lumps under the skin (known as nodules)
We know what the symptoms are, but unfortunately, the cause of Rheumatoid Arthritis is not yet known. Researchers still cannot find an exact problem that might cause this disease. However, they all agree that genes play an important role in the possibility of whether this disease can affect a person.
It is also widely known that the immune system is important when it comes to Rheumatoid Arthritis because the cells of the immune system attack the tissues in joints and other body organs. Researchers also think that some environmental factors may be involved too.
To check if you are suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis and clear any doubts, you will have to make several check-ups. Your medical history can be important so try to provide your doctor with as many details as you can. A rheumatologist or an arthritis specialist is crucial for a correct diagnosis.
You should also expect physical examination in order for your joints and affected areas to be checked. Some other procedures include X-rays, sonograms or magnetic resonance imaging. This is necessary for estimation of the damage this disease has made on your joints and other organs. Blood tests might also be included in order to precise the decision.
Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis
The treatment for RA and the much-wanted relief might be a complex process that will take time and effort. To put one thing straight – there is no known cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis, so you will have to learn to live with that.
When you accept this, you should set your goals on managing to live better while at the same time treating this disease. So your aim from now on should be to find a way to relief the pain and decrease all the symptoms that keep you from living a normal life. Treating RA is a complex process, consisted of: self-care, medical treatments and surgery.
– Exercise, but also rest. You will have to start exercising to stop you joints to become too stiff, but you don’t want to overdo it.
– Eat healthy and lose weight. If you are overweight, your joints suffer because they support your body and carry all the weight. Try to lose weight by eating healthy, because you need all the vitamins and minerals that food has to offer.
– Some supplements, such as omega 3 fatty acids, borage seed oil and evening primrose oil, have shown some results in improving RA conditions.
– Applying heat or cold can also help reduce the inflammation of joints.
– Consult your doctor on how to make every day’s tasks easier and simplified so that you can live normal.
– Pain-killers can help decrease your pain, inflammation and stiffness
– Non-steroidal drugs, anti-inflammatory drugs can be used for decreasing swelling and inflammation
– Anti-rheumatic drugs are also used to slow down the pace of the disease and relieve the pain
– Some medicines created from animal or human protein can also delay RA
If all these treatments don’t work, there are several surgeries that can be done: knee replacement, hip replacement, repairing of inflamed joints, surgeries to fuse a joint a make it stable, repositioning the bone to align it better and many more. Consult your doctor to see what works best for your condition.