Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints. This condition can also affect the tissues surrounding the joints (muscles, tendons, ligaments) as well as other organs of the body (skin, blood vessels, heart, lungs and muscles).
Unlike the wear-and-tear damage of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of your joints, causing a painful swelling that can eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity.
It is an autoimmune disorder, rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body’s tissues. In addition to causing joint problems, rheumatoid arthritis sometimes can affect other organs of the body — such as the skin, eyes, lungs and blood vessels.
Rheumatoid arthritis usually begins after 40 yrs of age and is more common in women than men.
What are the causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Age: Rheumatoid arthritis can occur at any age, but usually occurs between 40- 60 yrs of age.
Sex: Women are more likely to develop Rheumatoid arthritis than men
Family history: Positive family history may increase the risk of Rheumatoid arthritis,
Smoking: increases the risk of Rheumatoid arthritis.
Hormonal changes: Changes in the hormonal levels during pregnancy and breastfeeding may cause changes in hormonal levels.
What are the Symptoms of Rheumatoid arthritis?
The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis come and go, depending on the degree of tissue inflammation. When body tissues are inflamed, the disease is active.
When tissue inflammation subsides, the disease is inactive (in remission). Remissions can occur spontaneously or with treatment and can last weeks, months, or years.
During remissions, symptoms of the disease disappear, and people generally feel well. When the disease becomes active again (relapse), symptoms return.
Common symptoms during the active stage of RA are as follows:
• Symmetrical affection of joints is common
• Joint swelling, redness and tenderness
• Joint stiffness
• Limited range of motion of joints
• Deformities of hands and feet (at later stages)
• Muscular pains
• Loss of appetite
• Usually multiple joints are affected at one time (polyarthritis)
• Skin redness or inflammation
• Round, painless nodules under the skin
• Inflammation of the lung (pleurisy)
• Swollen glands
Diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis:
Swelling, redness, restriction of movements, Muscle reflexes and strength is checked in the physical examination.
Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis: