Rheumatoid arthritis is a common type of auto-immune diseases that affects small joints. It is often characterized by joint pain and swelling. The treatment is directed at alleviating the symptoms of the patient, such as swelling and joint pain. Proper diet and consistent, simple exercises such as walking and taking the stairs can help you relieve the pressure on the joints and relieve the pain and swelling. It is the most prevalent form of autoimmune arthritis in America and all over the world. Over 1.3 million Americans are affected by rheumatoid arthritis, the interesting fact about this diseases is that women are more affected. 3 out of every 4 rheumatoid arthritis patients are women. Most women might be lucky to escape this disease, but 1-3 percent of women develop rheumatoid arthritis throughout their lifetime.
It is not age specific, most commonly affects people within the age range of 30 – 50. It is often characterized by joint pain, stiffness, swelling, and limited range of motion. If left untreated or detected late, it could affect other organ and cause different complications. The organs that are frequently affected are the eyes, skin, and lungs. The small joints of the limbs such as wrists and joints of hands and feet are frequently affected.
Morning joint stiffness is pathognomic for rheumatoid arthritis; this symptom differentiates it from another autoimmune disease. It gets better and is relieved by physical activity. The stiffness in rheumatoid arthritis is worse in the morning and sometimes occurs for 1-3 hours during the day. It can affect other organs and parts of the body such as eyes, hearts, lungs, skins, and blood vessels.
Causes of Rhumetoid Arthritis
The normal physiological process is for the body, s immune system to attack foreign bodies when they invade our body. The presence of foreign bodies such as a virus, bacteria, infections, drugs, or foreign particles, stimulates an inflammatory response from the body. Erythrocytes, leukocytes, and thrombocytes are the major cellular components of the blood. White blood cells also called leucocytes are responsible for fighting infections by a process called phagocytosis.
In rheumatoid arthritis, contrary to the body’s physiological method of fighting infections, the body’s immune system starts fighting its cells. These types of diseases are called auto-immune diseases. This inflammatory response is responsible for the joint pain and swelling you experience when you have rheumatoid arthritis. When this inflammatory response occurs for a prolonged period, it could lead to severe joint damage and rheumatoid arthritis. The primary etiology of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown. However, there are several risk factors that increase the likelihood and chances of someone having these diseases.
Signs and Symptoms of Rhumetoid Arthritis
There are different signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis depending on the joint affected.Irrespective of the location of this auto-immune disease, there are general symptoms that are pathognomic of rheumatoid arthritis. The common signs and symptoms include:
- Loss of Energy
- Low fever
- Appetite loss
- Sjogren‘s Syndrome: This syndrome can manifest in a lot of ways such as xerostomia, dryness of the eyes, and another rheumatoid arthritis-related disease.
- Rheumatoid Nodules: these are small firm nodules or lumps under the skin in rheumatoid arthritis patients. It is often located beneath the skin of the elbow or wrists.
- Tender and swollen joints
- Joint stiffness that is worst in the morning and after a prolonged period of inactivity.
The signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis often start from the wrist or fingers and spread to other parts of the body such as hips, shoulders, elbows, knees, and ankle. There could be an alternation between flaring and remission of symptoms.
Risk Factors for Rhumetoid Arthritis
The etiology of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown, but there are numerous risk factors that contribute to these diseases and increases the chances of people having rheumatoid arthritis. The most common risk factors include:
- Gender: Rheumatoid arthritis is more common in the female when compared to male. The highest population of rheumatoid arthritis patients in America is
- Age: It is not age specific but commonly occurs in people within the age range of 40 to 60 years.
- Family History: Genetic predisposition also plays a significant role in the development of rheumatoid arthritis. People with family history of rheumatoid arthritis have an increased chance of having the medical condition.
- Smoking: Smoking has been linked to auto-immune disease and rheumatoid arthritis
- Environmental Exposure: Ancestors, silica, and dust are allergens that can lead to rheumatoid arthritis. Occupational hazards are also responsible for inflammatory response and rheumatoid arthritis. Factory workers that are frequently exposed to dust, silica, and asbestos are at higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. The significant collapse of the world trade center has been linked to the high incidence of rheumatoid arthritis because the people and factory workers around the world trade center were exposed to dust during the collapse.
- Obesity: Excessive body weight and obesity put a lot of strain on the joints and could cause rheumatoid arthritis. It is more common in women who are 55 years or younger.
Diagnosis of Rhumetoid Arthritis
There are different ways doctors diagnose rheumatoid arthritis, they perform different examinations and ask about your family and social history. Rheumatoid arthritis is similar to a lot of auto-immune and inflammatory diseases. You need various tests and analysis to confirm rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis. The most common diagnostic methods include:
- Medical and history: The medical doctor would ask you about your medical and history; this would help to rule out genetic You could be asked about your social history because smoking has been linked to rheumatoid arthritis.
- Physical Examination: Presence of joint tenderness, warmth, and rheumatoid nodules are indications for rheumatoid arthritis. The medical practitioner performs some physical examination to detect any joint abnormality or dysfunction.
- Blood Examination: Blood examinations are performed to detect the presence of antibodies or proteins specific for rheumatoid arthritis.
- Inflammatory markers: Increased c-reactive proteins and sedimentary erythrocyte rates are inflammatory indicators. This IS not sufficient to make rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis, but it indicates inflammatory response which also occurs in rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is often confused with osteoarthritis but can be differentiated by their symptoms, especially morning stiffness and effect of physical activities.
Diagnosing Rheumatoid Arthritis. (2018). Arthritis.org. Retrieved 7 March 2018, from https://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/rheumatoid-arthritis/diagnosing.php
Diseases and Conditions Rheumatoid Arthritis. (2018). Rheumatology.org. Retrieved 7 March 2018, from https://www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Diseases-Conditions/Rheumatoid-Arthritis
William C. Shiel Jr., F. (2018). Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment, Diagnosis, RA Symptoms & Causes. MedicineNet. Retrieved 7 March 2018, from https://www.medicinenet.com/rheumatoid_arthritis/article.htm#what_are_complications_of_rheumatoid_arthritis