Rheumatoid arthritis: An Overview
Rheumatoid arthritis can be an uncomfortable affliction to deal with. It can be painful and make normal life activities harder. And while it may feel stressful, Rheumatoid arthritis can be managed when you work closely with one of our specialists at Kayal Rheumatology Center.
What is Rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that causes chronic inflammation. It’s perhaps most noticeable in the joints, particularly the joints in the hands. However, the effects are far more wide-reaching, capable of attacking the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, and blood vessels. As rheumatoid arthritis attacks the lining of the joints, it can lead to bone deformity and damage the structure of the joints.
What Are The Causes of Rheumatoid arthritis
As an autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis is a condition where the immune system accidentally attacks the body’s own cells. In this case, it attacks the synovium — the lining of the membranes that surround your joints.
Like most autoimmune diseases, doctors do not have a definitive cause pinpointed for rheumatoid arthritis. However, they do suspect genetics may well play a role, if not causing the disease itself, but rather by making the body more susceptible to infection.
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include:
- Pain in the joints (particularly in the mornings and after a period of inactivity.)
- Swelling, redness, and warmth
The condition can also affect other areas outside of the joints including:
- Salivary glands
- Nerve tissue
- Bone marrow
- Blood vessels
Other potential complications of rheumatoid arthritis include:
- Osteoporosis and bone density loss
- Hip bursitis and knee bursitis
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Heart problems
Rheumatoid arthritis can be difficult to diagnose in its early stages. As there is no single test that can categorically diagnose the condition, your doctor is likely to use a series of tests. These will include blood tests, physical exams, and even imaging tests. Blood tests play the most important role in finding the condition while imaging tests are important in determining the severity of the case.
As an autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis cannot be fully cured, however, it can be managed. If caught early, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) can be very effective in managing the symptoms.
Other medications that your doctor may prescribe are:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Biologic agents ( a newer class of DMARDs)
Your specialist may also suggest physical therapy and in some rare case suggest surgery
Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition that some will have to deal with for the rest of their lives. However, modern medicine has ensured that it can be manageable when caught early and treated effectively. While it typically manifests in the joints of your hands, it can also affect a number of other areas such as your heart, so it is important to have it checked out at the first sign of symptoms.
As early diagnosis can be difficult, you want to ensure that you have a doctor who is up to the job. Kayal Rheumatology Center is an award-winning practice with a history of excellence.