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Rheumatoid arthritis or RA is an inflammatory disease caused by an autoimmune reaction, where the immune system mistakenly attacks the healthy cells of the body. This results in painful joint swellings . Rheumatoid arthritis affects multiple joints at once. These include joints of wrists, hands, and knees.
Although researchers are yet to find out the exact underlying cause behind this autoimmune reaction, RA continues to be a common problem in India. Knowing the symptoms is important to receive effective treatment before it develops into chronic pain causing deformity and unsteadiness.
|Symptoms||Fatigue, minor joint pain, stiffness of joints, frequent swelling of the joints, etc.|
|Complications||Premature heart ailments such as pericarditis, myocarditis or even heart failure; permanent deformity of joints, chronic pain, poor quality of life, etc.|
|Causes||Immunological reaction, where the body starts attacking the healthy synovial tissue of the joints.|
|Onset||Starts when the immune system of the body starts to attack the healthy cells near the joints by mistake.|
|Diagnosis||Physical check-ups, blood tests, X-rays, etc.|
|Prevention||Reduce smoking and early treatment of joint pain and injuries.|
|Medication||Methotrexate, hydroxychloroquine, corticosteroids, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), naproxen, ibuprofen, etc.|
Here is a detailed overview of rheumatoid arthritis causes, symptoms, types, and treatment.
In Rheumatoid Arthritis, joints on both sides of your body are equally affected at first. The most common affected areas are the wrists, fingers, elbows, ankles, feet, knees, hips, and shoulders.
The development of this disease is slow. Early rheumatoid arthritis symptoms include the following:
The joint symptoms include the following :
Other symptoms may include:
Rheumatoid Arthritis is caused by an immunological reaction in which the immune system assaults the body’s own healthy cells. Normally, the immune system in a healthy body fights foreign bodies such as viruses and bacteria. However, in RA, the immune system targets the synovium, a tissue that lines around the joint and creates a fluid to aid joint mobility.
Although the exact cause behind the development of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown, some factors might increase the chances. These factors may include:
There are several types of rheumatoid arthritis, and identifying them will influence the sort of treatment you receive. To diagnose the specific kind of RA, your symptoms, along with the clinical outcomes of laboratory testing and X-rays are used.
The different types of RA are identified by rheumatoid factor, an autoantibody that the body produces when it begins to attack the immune system.
The two main RA types are as follows :
In this type of RA, there is a positive presence of proteins called rheumatoid factor (RF) or anti-cyclic citrullinated peptides (anti-CCP) in your body. This means that your immune system targets the normal tissues of your own body. Normally, the target sites of RF are where other antibodies may be present. This type of RA can be often found in individuals with other health conditions such as infections.
In case you test negative for the presence of anti-CCP in your bloodstream, it will be referred to as seronegative. You may still develop RA without possessing the RF. To identify this type, X-rays are required in addition to other laboratory tests. RF-negative type rheumatoid arthritis is a rarer type. In addition, their symptoms may be milder than that of seropositive rheumatoid arthritis.
If you have been diagnosed with Rheumatoid arthritis then you must visit a certified specialist right away. In addition, you should also go for a check-up if you experience the following:
The specialist for treating this disorder would be a rheumatologist. You can also visit an orthopaedist if your condition is degenerative.
After diagnosis, you can receive guidance on your drug regimen and how to manage your arthritic condition on a daily basis from a certified healthcare professional who is familiar with your condition. They can also refer you to other beneficial resources or support communities to help you manage your symptoms better.
It is difficult to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis as there are several conditions that may cause joint pain, stiffness and inflammation. Therefore, there is no specific rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis.
However, there are a few ways to detect if you have developed the condition. They include the following:
The general examination includes a check-up of joints for swelling or stiffness. It also assesses how easily you can move your joints. In addition, your physician may also ask about your symptoms to make a correct diagnosis .
Blood tests may be used to confirm RA diagnosis. They include:
There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, but the symptoms can be managed effectively. With proper medication, physical therapy and self-care, the process and progress of the disease can be slowed down. More importantly, early diagnosis is important to improve prognosis.
However, in many cases, the lack of identifying and understanding of some of the common symptoms such as fatigue leads to poor prognosis of the disease .
Easy diagnosis and effective treatment helps manage and improve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and quality of life. The various rheumatoid arthritis treatments available are as follows:
For early treatments, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are given to the patients. This helps to avoid deformities and slow down joint destruction. The main aim of RA medications is to slow down or prevent the condition’s progression.
The medicines include:
Note that these medicines come with side effects. Therefore, they must be used in small doses and preferably for short terms. You must consult a certified doctor before taking them.
Supporting therapies, like physical therapy and occupational therapy, may keep you active, mobile and help you handle any issues you have with day-to-day activities. Moreover, exercise regimens and range-of-motion exercises recommended by a certified physical therapist can keep muscles strong and postpone the loss of joint function.
In addition, electrical stimulation or heat may be used to lessen joint pain and movements.
Other therapies used include:
Surgeries can help in order to repair damaged and injured joints. Surgeries include the following:
Currently, there is no specific preventive technique for rheumatoid arthritis. However, there are certain lifestyle changes you may choose to reduce your symptoms. These include reducing the intake of tobacco and early check-up and treatment to check for further damage to the joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can significantly reduce the quality of life and has numerous negative social and physical effects. Moreover, it may result in suffering, lifestyle impairment, and even early demise.
Some of the major rheumatoid arthritis complications include :
Other complications that may appear are:
Note that some of the medications may also have several side effects. Therefore, consult your doctor about the treatment plan and its side effects beforehand.
These complications worsen if the condition goes untreated. Therefore, if you notice any symptoms, visit a certified doctor immediately.
The cost of rheumatoid arthritis in India varies depending on the type of treatment and whether you are taking it from a private or public healthcare centre. Generally, if you are looking for a cost-effective action, you can visit your nearest government clinic.
However, the average cost of medicines for RA per month ranges between ₹500 to ₹1000. Whereas, medical procedures such as replacement surgeries may approximately cost between ₹50,000 to ₹4,00,000.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a painful and chronic disease. However, the severity of pain and inflammation may depend on the type of RA and the stage you are in. It would be wise to consult a certified medical professional when you start noticing symptoms.
Being a recurring issue, rheumatoid treatment and care could be expensive, especially if you have to go through a surgical procedure. To protect your life’s savings, get Navi Health Insurance. Enjoy cashless treatments at 10,000+ network hospitals, unlimited online consultations, home hospitalisation, annual check-ups and other perks with premiums starting at just Rs.234 a month. Get a quote now!
Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, consult your doctor to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.
Both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis cause stiffness and pain in the joints. However, in the case of osteoarthritis, the main cause of the condition is due to damage or wearing away of your knee cap or cartilage over time. On the other hand, RA occurs when your immune system attacks the healthy cells of the tissues present at the lining of your joint.
No, there is no permanent cure for rheumatoid arthritis. If you have developed this condition, you will have it for the rest of your life. However, there may be periods when you do not experience any discomfort. This is because the symptoms tend to come and go. However, the damages tend to persist and if you do not address them properly, it might cause permanent deformity and permanent damage to your joints and cartilage. This can, in turn, also affect your lungs and heart and give rise to other ailments.
Yes, although diet cannot cure the condition, healthy nutrition can help you reduce inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis. Essential nutrients will not only keep other bodily functions running smoothly but will also keep your weight under control, which is essential in RA management.
Yes, improving your lifestyle may significantly help with your RA condition. This mainly includes regular exercise and sufficient rest. RA may lead to an inactive lifestyle, causing loss of muscle strength. Therefore, non-strenuous exercise along with adequate rest and sleep can prevent the worsening of the condition.
Although RA can happen to anyone, some are at a higher risk than others. For instance, women have a higher risk of developing RA. In addition, the risk for both sexes increases with advancing age.
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