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Rheumatoid arthritis treatment & Causes | 24 Mantra Organic

Rheumatoid arthritis treatment & Causes

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Health and Nutrition
13.01.2020

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune and inflammatory disorder which is a long term condition. In autoimmune disorders the immune system attacks the healthy cells in the body because it recognizes them as a foreign object by mistake. It causes inflammation in the affected parts of the body which results in painful swelling and stiffness (1, 2).

Comparatively more women are affected by RA than men. RA is a type of arthritis which affects hands, feet and wrists more. There is pain, swelling and loss of function in the joints where RA affects. It usually starts in middle age and is more common in older people.

The disease sometimes troubles only for a short period of time, or symptoms may come and go, or when it is severe it may cause distress that lasts a life time (2, 3).

RA mainly affects joints, generally several joints at a time. The most common joints that get affected are hands, wrists and knees. In the joint affected with RA the lining of the joint is inflamed which results in damage to the joint. This may cause chronic pain, unsteadiness and deformity of the joint (1).

RA is different from osteoarthritis because osteoarthritis is a result of wear and tear and occurs as a person ages. Whereas RA is an autoimmune disease and though it is common in older people it can occur in young people too.

RA can affect other parts of the body other than just joints, it can affect eyes, mouth and lungs too (3).

 

Symptoms:

RA symptoms may come and go. When the symptoms appear, it is called flare-up of RA and when the symptoms get better it is known as remission (1, 2).

  • There is a pain in more than one joint
  • Stiffness is observed in more than one joint
  • There is tenderness and swelling in joints
  • The symptoms are observed on both sides of the body, that is, in both hands, both knees
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Sweating
  • Feeling tired all the time

Causes:

The exact cause of RA is not known. There may be contributing factors such as genes, environment and hormones (3).

Since it is an autoimmune disorder the reason why the immune system attacks the healthy tissue is not known (1). But there are several risk factors for developing RA.

  • RA is more common in older adults, persons in their 60’s.
  • RA occurrence is 2 to 3 times more in women compared to men.
  • Genetic factors, people with certain genes have a higher risk of developing RA.
  • Smoking is a risk factor and smoking can make RA worse.
  • It was observed that women who have never given birth are at a higher risk of developing RA.
  • A kind of exposure early in life may increase the risk of RA, such as children whose mothers smoked have double the risk of developing RA when they became adults.
  • Obesity is another risk factor for developing RA. The more overweight a person the higher is the risk of getting RA.

Be aware of the risk factors and if they can be modified, do it. For example, if you smoke, stop smoking. It is learnt the women who breastfeed their babies have a lower risk of developing RA (1).

Diagnosis:

Diagnosis is done based on the doctor’s physical examination, x-rays and lab tests. It is better than the diagnosis is done as early as possible so that more harm with advancement such as damage to the joints can be stopped with treatment (1).

Doctors who are specialists in taking care of RA patients are called rheumatologists and they are the right persons to do the correct diagnosis because the symptoms of RA look like any other joint inflammatory disorder.

Treatment:

Treatment with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, lifestyle modification and sometimes surgery may be suggested (1). These treatments can slow or stop joint deformity and reduce pain and swelling (3). Early treatment is essential to stop the joint from being permanently damaged.

The aim of the treatment for RA should be to stop the pain, reduce the inflammation, slowing or stopping the joint from getting damaged (4). It should be a multi-pronged approach to improve the quality of life of the person affected by improving the person’s ability to function.

 

References:

  1. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (2019). Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).
    https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/rheumatoid-arthritis.html
  1. National Health Services (2019). Rheumatoid Arthritis.
    https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/rheumatoid-arthritis/
  1. Medline Plus (2019). Rheumatoid Arthritis.
    https://medlineplus.gov/rheumatoidarthritis.html
  1. National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health (2019). Rheumatoid Arthritis: In Depth.
    https://nccih.nih.gov/health/RA/getthefacts.htm#hed2

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