Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It usually
affects the wrist, hand, elbow, shoulder, knee, and ankle joints. Usually the
joints on both sides of the body are affected. Rheumatoid arthritis, an
autoimmune disease, occurs when the body’s immune system attacks its own
tissues. Pain occurs because of inflammation of the joint’s membrane lining.
When you have RA, your immune system is producing too much of a protein called
TNF-alpha. In moderate to severe cases, your physician may prescribe a
medication that blocks production of TNF-alpha. Not only does pain and
stiffness occur, but loss of movement can occur as well. Rheumatoid arthritis
is not limited to the joints, but can also affect the body’s organs as well.
With the progression of time, rheumatoid arthritis, like osteoarthritis, can
become crippling. The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown although genetic
factors may be a reason.
Symptoms of Rheumatoid arthritis:
You may also, but not
necessarily experience fatigue, fever, or a decrease in appetite.
Diagnosing Rheumatoid arthritis:
Your physician may conduct a lab test to search for an antibody termed “rheumatoid
factor” that is found in 80% of people diagnosed with RA. Also, in your
physical examination, he will examine any swollen or tender joints. If you are
diagnosed with RA, you should begin treatment immediately, under the care of
your physician. Early treatment can prevent further joint damage.
Treatment of Rheumatoid arthritis:
Your physician may prescribe medications to slow or prevent joint
destruction. These medications are called disease-modifying antirheumatic
drugs. He may also prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs and pain relievers.
Corticosteroid injections are sometimes used to ease flare ups of the disease.
The goal of treatment is to retard the joint damage, reduce joint pain, and
help you maintain your lifestyle by staving off permanent disability.