Rheumatoid Arthritis Explained – Meaning, Symptoms & Treatment

Rheumatoid Arthistis by Perfect Health Management

Rheumatoid Arthritis - Quick 30 Seconds Summary

  • Rheumatoid arthritis is now the most common long-term autoimmune disease that causes persistent inflammation of the joints and other body components.
  • Individuals’ immune systems mistakenly target their joint lining capsules or bodily tissues, resulting in this condition.
  • Blood tests, x-rays, and imaging scans are used to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis.
  • The treatment procedure for RA includes medicines, surgery, and Ayurvedic treatment.

Rheumatoid Arthritis - Introduction & Overview

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which your immune system assaults your own body’s tissues.

According to the World Health Organisation, rheumatoid arthritis affects up to 14 million people worldwide

Rheumatoid arthritis is a lengthy inflammatory condition that affects more than your joints. Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of your joints, causing a painful swelling that can lead to bone loss and joint deformity.

The condition creates inflammation throughout the body, which can impair other organs. But, many novel drugs have vastly enhanced treatment options, even for severe cases.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is a sub-category of Arthritis. Arthritis is a joint pain condition that affects millions of people globally. Learn more about it with our detailed blog The 2022 Arthritis Guide – Symptoms, Causes & Treatments

Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms

Early rheumatoid arthritis usually targets smaller joints first, like from fingers to hands and your toes to your feet. As the disease progresses, the wrists, knees, ankles, elbows, hips, and shoulders are usually affected. 

The symptoms can range from mild to severe and can affect any part of the body.

  • Fever
  • Inflammation of the joints
  • Joints have less flexibility
  • Morning stiffness or joint stiffness

About 40% of patients with rheumatoid arthritis also have indications and symptoms that aren’t related to their joints. 

Joint pain is a common complaint amongst those who suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis. Learn everything about Joint Pain with our detailed blog8 Joint Pain Truths That You Must Read

Rheumatoid Arthritis Causes

The immune system of humans is quite protective. When a foreign substance, such as bacteria or fungus, enters the human body, it produces antibodies. Those antibodies battle and kill the alien substance.

In rare circumstances, however, the immune system releases antibodies to assault the joint lining by mistake. Rheumatoid Arthritis develops as a result of this. The explanation for the immune system’s unusual behavior is unknown.

Women are more likely than men to get this autoimmune illness. According to a study, those who smoke have a higher risk of acquiring Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Doctors aren’t sure what triggers this action, but it appears to have a strong genetic component. While your genes do not cause rheumatoid arthritis, they can make you more susceptible to environmental conditions that can start the disease, such as infection by certain bacteria or viruses.

Some of the following causes can increases the chances of getting rheumatoid arthritis:

  • Your gender – Women are more prone to get rheumatoid arthritis than men.
  • Age-Rheumatoid arthritis can strike at any age, but it most typically strikes people in their forties and fifties.
  • Heredity – If a member of your family has rheumatoid arthritis, you may be at a higher risk of developing the disease.
  • Smoking – Raises your risk of rheumatoid arthritis, especially if you have a genetic susceptibility to the condition.
  • Obesity – Overweight people tend to have a slightly greater chance of getting rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis raises your chances of getting: 

  •  Osteoporosis – Rheumatoid arthritis drugs, might raise your risk of osteoporosis, a condition that weakens your bones and makes them more susceptible to fracture.
  • Rheumatoid nodules – They are a kind of rheumatoid arthritis. The most typical location for these hard tissue bumps is in pressure areas, such as the elbows.
  • Mouth and eyes both turn dry –   Rheumatoid arthritis patients are more likely to develop Sjogren’s syndrome, a condition in which the amount of moisture in the eyes and mouth reduces.
  • Infections -Anti-rheumatoid medications may suppress the immune system, exposing it to be prone to infection. Vaccinations can help you avoid infections including influenza, pneumonia, shingles, and COVID-19.
  • Incorrect Body composition – Even in those with a normal BMI, the percentage of fat to lean mass is generally higher in people with rheumatoid arthritis (BMI).
  • Problems with the heart – Rheumatoid arthritis can lead to clogged and hardened arteries, as well as inflammation of the sac that surrounds your heart.
  • Lung disease – It is a common ailment. Rheumatoid arthritis patients are at a greater risk of lung tissue inflammation and scarring, which can lead to progressive shortness of breath.
  • Lymphoma – Lymphoma, a type of blood cancer that forms in the lymph system, is more common in people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis is difficult to identify in its early stages since the symptoms might be confused with those of other disorders. 

Your doctor will examine your joints for swelling, redness, and warmth during the physical exam. He or she may also assess your muscle strength and reflexes.

Blood test

A high erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) or C-reactive protein (CRP) level in people with rheumatoid arthritis may indicate the presence of an inflammatory process in the body. Rheumatoid factor and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) antibodies are two other popular blood tests.

Imaging Tests

Your doctor may suggest X-rays to track the evolution of rheumatoid arthritis in your joints over time. Your doctor can use MRI and ultrasound tests to assess the degree of the disease in your body.

When to See a Doctor for Rheumatoid Arthritis?

You should schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as you notice any of the symptoms listed above. Early detection can save a lot of time, and treatment can begin right away.

Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis does not have a specific treatment. Treatment usually consists of a combination of patient education, rest, exercise, medication, and surgery.

The treatment’s main purpose is to:

  • Lessen the Pain
  • Reduce swelling
  • Assist folks in staying active.
  • Protect your joints from further harm.

Medications

  • Methotrexate
  • Leflunomide 
  • Sulfasalazine 
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Corticosteroid
  • Conventional DMARDs

Disclaimer: Always ask your doctor before taking any medicine.

Surgical Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis:

If drugs do not prevent or reduce joint damage, you and your doctor may decide to have surgery to restore the damaged joints. Surgery may be able to help you regain your capacity to move your joint. It can also help with pain and function.

One or more of the following procedures may be used in rheumatoid arthritis surgery:

  • Synovectomy – During surgery, the inflammatory lining of the joint (synovium) can be removed to reduce pain and improve joint flexibility.
  • Tendon resurfacing – Tendons around your joint may loosen or rupture as a result of inflammation and joint injury. Your surgeon could be able to restore the tendons that surround your joint.
  • Joint fusion – When a joint replacement isn’t an option, surgically fusing a joint to stabilise or straighten it and relieve pain is a possibility.
  • Replacement of the whole joint – Your surgeon will remove the damaged portions of your joint and replace them with a metal and plastic prosthesis during joint replacement surgery.

Ayurvedic treatment

People with rheumatoid arthritis may benefit from Ayurvedic food and lifestyle practices, such as taking herbs and vitamins and doing yoga (RA). According to Trusted Source, adhering to Ayurveda practices can help reduce inflammation, ease RA symptoms, and limit flare-ups. 

A diet that pacifies or balances Vata is recommended according to Ayurveda. 

  • Lentils, dal, mung beans, tofu
  • Grains like cooked oats, rice, and cream of wheat grains
  • Buttermilk 
  • Meat 
  • Vegetables that are leafy green
  • To aid digestion and eliminate toxins, drink lukewarm water or water boiled with ginger root.
  • Anti-inflammatory spices such as ginger, turmeric, and garlic can help with digestion.

Gentle activities- yoga, tai chi, swimming, and walking are commonly recommended Ayurveda workouts. Daily meditation and deep breathing are also recommended. Yoga may be particularly beneficial for people with RA.

Apply either heat or cold to the affected area. Heat might help you relax and ease discomfort in stiff, painful muscles. Exposure to cold may reduce the experience of discomfort. Edema can be reduced by using cold to numb the skin.

Other ayurvedic methods that could help with your RA symptoms are: Purifying rituals with specialized oil therapy, herbal pastes, and castor oil.

Depression - Concluding Remarks

Diet and exercise are key parts of our lifestyle, and the diet we follow affects the quality of our lives. Exercise is beneficial in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Exercise can help reduce joint discomfort, inflammation, and stiffness while also increasing flexibility. If you see any signs or symptoms of RA, arrange an appointment with a rheumatologist. They will further guide you with medications and all necessary treatment procedures.