Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, And Treatment

You woke up in the morning and noticed your muscles couldn’t move freely. Or do you experience pains and swellings on your joints? Your daily activities like dressing up or simply walking become hampered. These discomforts may be due to several causes, and one of those can be rheumatoid arthritis.

What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid Arthritis, also referred to as RA, is an auto-immune inflammatory disorder that affects the joints. The disease affects the joint linings and causes severe pains and swelling.

The disorder can get chronic with age. With time, the inflammation can get worse, leading to joint deformity. The deformity often affects both sides of the sufferer’s body.

The situation can also develop into erosive arthritis, which causes bone erosion. In severe cases, rheumatoid arthritis can affect the internal organs.

Causes Of Rheumatoid Arthritis

There is no clear cause of rheumatoid arthritis. However, diagnosis reveals that the condition occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the tissues in the body, specifically the joints.

Usually, the immune system produces antibiotics for attacking viruses and bacteria in the body. When the immune system, by mistake, sends antibiotics to the joints, they fight the tissue there. This interaction causes inflammation, swelling, and sores.

The chemicals released damages the bones, cartilages, ligaments, and tendons in the affected joint. Over time, untreated rheumatoid arthritis can degenerate, causing the joint to lose shape and position.

Some factors can increase a person’s susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis. Some of these are:

1. Smoking

Medical advisers submit that smokers are liable to develop rheumatoid arthritis compared to people who do not smoke. They advise that people stay health-conscious to reduce risk.

2. Hormones

Threads of critical discussions insinuate that estrogen hormone places women at higher risk of developing the condition.

3. Genes

Some evidence supports the consideration that a family line can have a history of rheumatoid arthritis. However, genes play a limited part in the cause of the disease, so the chances of inheriting it are slim.

Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Some symptoms signal the presence of rheumatoid arthritis. These symptoms occur in the joints. Although, they can occur on any organ of the body. Symptoms can be mild or severe. These are:

1. Painful Joints

Joints are those parts of the body where bones join together. People who suffer from this disease experience pains and discomfort in the joints in their hands, shoulders, arms, knees,  hips, and other parts of the body. These pains can get severe over time.

2. Swelling Of The Joints

Rheumatoid arthritis can affect the tissues surrounding the body joints. When these tissues accumulate fluid, it leads to swelling. Swollen tissues usually get bigger or assume an irregular shape.

3. Stiffness Of The Joints

Pains and swelling in the joints lead to stiffness. Stiffness can make standing and walking difficult. Severe stiffness can impact mobility.

4. Joint deformity

Continuous swelling and stiffness of the joint can lead to joint deformity. Where the tissues cushioning the joints wear off completely, and the bones erode, the deformity will set it.

5. Body weakness

People who have rheumatoid arthritis may experience general body weakness and fatigue. Most times, they may find it challenging to move around and may become dull.

6. Fever

Rheumatoid arthritis can cause a feverish feeling. The person’s temperature can rise, and the person may feel generally unwell.

Symptoms occur in periods of flares or exacerbation and remission. During RA flares, these symptoms, especially swelling, become severe. This exacerbation often varies in duration and intensity.

Severe situations can impact daily activities, like exercising, walking, driving, and working.  In periods of remission, symptoms improve, and there is a relief. Sometimes, the symptoms may disappear.

Diagnosis Of Rheumatoid Arthritis

It is difficult to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis in its early stages. Its symptoms are similar to those of other diseases of connective tissue like psoriatic arthritis, osteoarthritis, lupus, etc.

During diagnosis, the rheumatologist will carry out the following:

1. Physical Examination

The doctor will examine you for symptoms like symmetrical joint swelling, stiffness, and abnormal pains. He or she will also check for warmth because the inflamed joint is most times warm.

2. Blood Test

The rheumatologist will carry out a test to look for proteins that may indicate the presence of RA like C-reactive protein (CRP). The doctor may also test your blood for anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CPP) antibodies.

3. X-ray

X-rays, MRI, and ultrasound tests will show the extent to which the RA in your system has developed.

Prevention of Rheumatoid Arthritis

There is no unique method for preventing rheumatoid arthritis. However, you can become less susceptible to it if you:

1. Stop Smoking

Aside from genetic factors, smoking most likely exposes one to rheumatoid arthritis. Evidence suggests that smoking can aggravate the symptoms.

2. Oral Hygiene

Medical researchers discovered that poor oral hygiene could open one up to the disorder. Periodontal disease may put you at risk of getting RA. Maintaining a regular cleaning routine will help. Brushing, flossing, and quick medical checkups will help too.

Early treatment is vital in preventing RA from getting worse It will avoid severe pains and swelling that may lead to joint deformity.

When treating RA, doctors recommend that patients complete their medications for total relief. Some patients do not complete their medications when they get relief.

Your doctor should determine when you have remission and when to stop or reduce the medication. Incomplete treatment can lead to a reversal or worse situation.

Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis

There is no permanent cure for rheumatoid arthritis. However, there are several ways to slow down the disease progression.

1. Medications

There are anti-rheumatics drugs that give the sufferer relief from the symptoms and slow down the rate of exacerbation. These medications help to keep the condition in check.

Immunosuppressive drugs such as nitrogen mustard methotrexate, azathioprine, etc. reduce immune response and provide relief.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) reduce pains, swelling, and inflammation. They do not necessarily slow down the disease. They include Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), ketoprofen, (Orudis, Oruvail), C (Celebrex), etc.

Steroids such as hydrocortisone (A-hydrocort, Cortef), Prednisone (Sterapred, Deltasone, Liquid Pred), etc. reduce inflammation, bone deterioration, and fever.

2. Therapy

Therapy is very beneficial to people suffering from RA. Physical therapy helps with exercising and massaging the bones, joints, and muscles to improve flexibility and fitness. They treat inflamed areas with ice or heat packs.

Occupational therapy aims at improving your ability to carry out daily activities like walking, cooking, dressing, bathing, etc.

3. Medical Procedure

The medical procedure for RA is Arthrocentesis. It involves the use of a syringe to remove the inflamed fluid from the affected area. It is also called joint aspiration.

4. Surgery

Surgery is not very common for RA. However, surgery relieves patients of the pains and restore functionality to them. Surgery procedures such as arthrodesis, joint replacement, and synovectomy are most common.

5. Turmeric

There is widespread acclaim that turmeric curcumin is useful for treating rheumatoid arthritis. Turmeric grows in India and Indonesia. This yellow spice is also called Indian Saffron and belongs to the ginger family.

The active ingredient in it that makes it valuable in the field of rheumatology is Curcumin. Curcumin is antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It helps to reduce joint pain, inflammation, and swelling.

How To Take Turmeric

There is more than one way of taking turmeric. You can take it as a capsule or by ingestion.

1. Capsule

Taking turmeric curcumin as a capsule involves taking it in measured quantity. People suffering from RA usually take 500g of it twice daily. However, a medical prescription is necessary. The rheumatologist may prescribe below or above this dose, depending on the patient.

2. Ingestion

Taking turmeric by ingestion involves a process. You will have to boil a stem of the spice and leave it to dry. Then grind the turmeric into powder.

You can take it in the form of tea. It goes with smoothie. You can use turmeric as a spice when cooking recipes such as scrambled eggs and soups.

Turmeric is more effective when you take it with black pepper. Herbalists and doctors recommend adding 3% black pepper to the turmeric for maximum result.