Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease that damages joints and causes stiffness, pain, and swelling. Apart from joints, this condition can also affect the eyes, lungs, skin, heart, and blood vessels. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack the healthy tissues of the body.
People of any age group can get affected with this condition. It can cause serious issues quickly and hence early diagnosis is essential. The efficiency of the treatment is based on how sooner you start the treatment. To get an early diagnosis, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms.
Reasons for Rheumatoid Arthritis
As already mentioned, it is an autoimmune system where it attacks the immune system that protects the body from diseases and infections. Rheumatoid arthritis affects the joints and also causes medical issues with the heart, eyes, skin, and nerves.
The reasons for this condition are unknown. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, your immune system will send antibodies to your joints. These antibodies attack the tissues attached to the joints. This causes the lining cells to partition and causes inflammation. This condition also produces chemicals that can damage bones, tendons, and ligaments. If the condition is not treated at the right time, the joint gets affected and slowly the joint will get damaged.
The following factors can increase your chances of rheumatoid arthritis:
- Women are at greater risk of developing this condition than men
- Though this condition can occur at any age, it mainly begins from middle age
- If you have a family history of this condition, you may also develop this condition
- Smoking also increases the chances of rheumatoid arthritis
- Over-weight people might be at risk of developing this condition
Common Signs of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
In the early stages, RA affects the smaller joints that join fingers to hands and toes to the feet. As the disease develops, it can also affect the hands, knees, wrists, ankles, elbows, shoulder, and hips.
The most common symptoms of RA are:
- Stiffness in joints
- Joint pains
- Swelling and redness in joints
- Loss of mobility
- Weight loss
- Loss of hunger
- Dry eyes
- Inflammation may cause chest pain
In most cases, RA affects the joints on both sides in the same manner and at the same time. But it may not happen in all cases.
Diagnosing Rheumatoid Arthritis
The diagnosis of RA is based on your symptoms. Your doctor will need some time to confirm that you have RA. Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and medical history. He will also conduct a physical examination to evaluate your joints such as swelling, tenderness at the affected joint, muscle strength, etc.
There is no single test to determine if you have rheumatoid arthritis. If your doctor suspects that you have RA, he will conduct various types of tests such as the following:
- Blood test to check for antibodies, levels of acute-phase reactants which increases in case of inflammatory diseases.
- X-rays to get the pictures of the joint to look for any inflammation or damage
- Ultrasound scans that generate images of joints using high-frequency sound waves
- MRI scans that produce images of joints using strong radio waves and magnetic field
The tests not only help to determine if you have RA, it also helps to know how severe the joints are damaged.
For some patients, a complete evaluation and monitoring of other organs might be recommended by the doctor.
Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Though there is no cure for RA, proper measures can help prevent the damage and to manage the condition. The treatment focuses on reducing the severity, inflammation, pain, and to slow down the damage to the joints.
The treatment options include medications, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and surgery. Different medications can be used to relieve pain and to slow down the progress of the disease. Physiotherapy and occupational therapy help to manage your daily activities and to keep you moving. Surgery may be performed to correct the joint problems.
Suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis? Meet Dr Suhas Today
Dr Suhas, an orthopedic and joint replacement surgeon in Hyderabad has successfully handled hundreds of patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. He is very patient and works with you to understand your symptoms and suggest the right solution for you. If you have any symptoms of RA, visit Dr Suhas immediately to protect your joints.