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Rheumatoid  Arthritis: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

What is Rheumatoid  Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, progressive, and disabling autoimmune disease that causes inflammation, swelling, and pain in and around the joints and can affect other parts of the body. It usually affects the hands and feet first, but it can occur in any joint that may involve the same joints on both sides of the body.

Types of Rheumatoid Arthritis

  1. Seropositive type. People living with seropositive RA will have high levels of antibodies in their blood. High levels of these antibodies can occur for up to ten years before symptoms begin.
  2. Seronegative type. It means that a blood test doesn’t find certain antibodies your body typically makes when you have the condition. Your RA diagnosis would have to be based on symptoms and other things.
  3. Juvinille type of RA. It causes painful swelling of the joints. It usually begins before the age of 16 years. Symptoms may appear in children or even infants.

Signs and Symptoms of Rheumatoid  Arthritis

  • Pain or achiness in the joints
  • Swelling in more than one joint
  • A general feeling of being unwell
  • Loss of appetite
  • Stiffness in more than one joint that may last for 30 minutes
  • Symmetrical joint involvement
  • A low-grade fever
  • Weight loss and weakness
  • Deformity of the joints
  • Loss of function and mobility
  • Unsteadiness when walking

What Causes Rheumatoid  Arthritis?

RA is the result of an immune response in which the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy cells. Although there is no specific cause of this condition, some factors can increase the risk of developing the disease. Eventually, if left untreated, the inflammation can invade and destroy cartilage.

What are the Risk Factors of Rheumatoid Arthritis?

  1. Age. RA can begin at any age, but the likelihood increases with age. The onset of this condition is highest among adults in their sixties.
  2. Obesity. Being obese can increase the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. The more overweight a person is, the greater their risk of developing RA, according to studies examining obesity.
  3. Smoking. Cigarette smoking increases a person’s risk of developing RA and can worsen the disease, according to multiple studies.
  4. Early life exposures. Some early life exposures may increase the risk of developing this disease in adulthood.  For example, one study found that children whose mothers smoked had double the risk of developing RA as adults. 
  5. Sex. New cases of rheumatoid arthritis are typically two-to-three times higher in women than men.
  6. Genetics. People born with specific genes are more likely to develop this condition. Smoking or obesity can increase the risk of RA in people with these genes.

Treatment and Management of Rheumatoid  Arthritis

There is no cure for this condition but there are several ways to manage its symptoms and prevent future attacks.  Clinical studies indicate that remission of symptoms is more likely when treatment begins early with medications known as disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs.

Medications such as NSAIDs can relieve pain and reduce inflammation. A recommended medication for this condition is Nabumetone. It possesses analgesic, antipyretic and anti-inflammatory actions used to manage symptoms of RA. Discuss with your doctor the possible benefits and risk factors before using this medication.

Steroids are also used as a medication to reduce inflammation and pain and slow joint damage. Doctors also recommend conventional DMARDs to slow the progression of the disease and save the joints and other tissues from permanent damage.

Your doctor may also refer you to a physical or occupational therapist who can teach you exercises to help keep your joints flexible. Besides suggesting ways to do daily tasks that are easier on your joints, the therapist may also suggest new ways to do them.

Surgery is the last option of treatment for RA if medications fail to prevent or slow joint damage. To restore your ability to use your joint, your doctor may recommend surgery to repair damaged joints. It can also reduce pain and improve function.

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