Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease that affects the joints. This is a chronic disease, and it often affects more than one joint. It can also affect other organs of the body, such as the skin, eyes, hear, blood vessels and so on. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. This is a condition in which the body immune system, fails to identify the body tissue, and proceeds to attack them. In this case, the body immune system fails to identify the body the joint tissues. Patients do present with symptoms such as pain and stiffness of the joints. Other symptoms include a low red cell count, inflammation of the heart, inflammation of the lung membranes, weakness, fever, and so on. These symptoms don’t occur at once but happen progressively. The exact cause of this disease isn’t known yet. However, research has shown that genetics and environmental factors play an important role in the development of the disease. As earlier mentioned, the underlying mechanism of this disease is autoimmunity. This disease is diagnosed based on many conditions, such as the signs and symptoms presented by the patient, the result of the imaging test performed on the patient. The primary goal of the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis is to reduce the inflammation and pain and also improve the overall health of the patient. Stem cells extracted from Wharton Jelly are also used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis mainly joints, however, other organs of the body are also affected. This disease does affect the different systems of the body. Some of the other diseases associated with rheumatoid arthritis include depression, infection, cancer, mental disorders, reduced productivity at the person’s daily activities, osteoporosis and so on. Below are some of the symptoms associated with different organs of the body;
- Joints: This is the most prevalent symptom of rheumatoid arthritis. The joints affected becomes warm, tender, swollen and inflamed. The joints also become rigid, with a significant reduction in their movement. The joints most affected include the joints of the extremities, such as the hands, feet, and the cervical spine. The symptoms are usually more intense in the morning, but relieves the patient, after a short period, mostly around 1 hour. It has been noticed that gentle movements to improve the symptoms, especially in the early stages of the disease. However, the abnormal inflammatory activities might lead to the erosion, and damage to the surface of the joints, especially if the disease isn’t well managed. The fingers of the affected person might develop conditions such as ulnar deviation, boutonniere deformity, swan neck deformity, and so on.
- Skin: Persons affected by rheumatoid arthritis can also present with skin conditions such as rheumatoid nodule. This is the most prevalent non-joint symptoms, and statistics have shown that this occurs in about 30% of patients. In addition, different types of vasculitis also occur in rheumatoid arthritis. The most common of them include the small and medium-sized vessel vasculitis. Patients can also present with skin ulceration and vascular nerve infarction. Other skin conditions associated with rheumatoid arthritis include pyoderma gangrenosum, erythema nodosum, palmar erythema, and so on.
- Lungs: Pulmonary fibrosis is also a common complication of rheumatoid arthritis. Other complications of rheumatoid arthritis include exudative pleural effusions.
- Cardiovascular system: People affected with rheumatoid arthritis have a high risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Some of these diseases include myocardial infarction, stroke. This can lead to different complications such as pericarditis, endocarditis and so on. However, people affected by rheumatoid arthritis do not present with the same chest pain experienced by people when they develop myocardial infarction or angina.
- Blood: The most common blood system symptom presented by persons affected with rheumatoid arthritis is anaemia. The chronic inflammation leads to an increase in the level of hepcidin. This leads to the poor absorption of iron, which gets sequestered into the macrophages.
- Renal system: Renal amyloidosis can also develop as a result of rheumatoid arthritis. This mostly occurs when the disease isn’t well treated.
What Causes Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is an idiopathic disease. It’s idiopathic. In this scenario, the body immune system attacks the body tissues due to some genetic errors. In joints, the body immune system attacks the synovium of the joints, which leads to inflammation. However, there are several factors that play a role in the aetiology of rheumatoid arthritis. This includes
Genetics: Genetics is responsible for more than half of rheumatoid arthritis occurrences.
Hormonal influence: It has been noticed that hormones associated with sex play a role in rheumatoid arthritis. For example, it was discovered that women on contraceptives have a lesser occurrence of the disease. It is also noticed that women with high production of prolactin are more likely to have rheumatoid arthritis (especially in prolactinoma). Pregnancy is also an important factor, as it improves the condition of patients suffering from the disease
Infections: Some microorganisms have been associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Bacterial and viral organisms are known to cause this disease. An example is the mycoplasma bacteria. In addition, Epstein-Barr and even the Rubella have been recorded to cause this disease. There have been recorded cases where samples from the synovium of affected patients have tested positive for the presence of antibodies to some anaerobic bacteria
What Types Of Medication Are Prescribed In The Treatment Of Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic agents: They are the first line drugs in the treatment of rheumatic arthritis, and has been the most effective medication for the disease. They are capable of reducing and stopping the progression of the disease. Although, it’s best to combine them with pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs. Examples include Methotrexate: They work by improving the symptoms. They are anti-folate drugs.
Sulfasalazine: the mechanism of action is reducing inflammation and reducing prostaglandin production.
Stem Cell Treatment Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Studies have shown that mesenchymal stem cells can be used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. It works by reducing the pro-inflammatory cytokines and tissue necrosis factors.
“Handout on Health: Rheumatoid Arthritis”. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. August 2014. Archived from the original on June 30, 2015. Retrieved July 2, 2015.
Majithia V, Geraci SA (2007). “Rheumatoid arthritis: diagnosis and management”. Am. J. Med. 120 (11): 936–9. PMID 17976416. doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2007.04.005.Get More Stem Cell Information at iSTEMCELL