Rheumatoid Arthritis - Symptoms, Risk factors and Treatment

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease- a condition that occurs due to the hyperactivity of your immune system. It not only affects your joints but can also pose damage to the lungs, nerves, skin, eyes, blood, and heart. The characteristic sign of rheumatoid arthritis to differentiate from other types of arthritis is that it occurs symmetrically. If anyone joint is affected, the chances are quite high that the same joint of the other side will be affected. The most common symptom of rheumatoid arthritis is joint pain with inflammation.


For the treatment, the healthcare providers may prescribe over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or naproxen. Along with that, they may also prescribe low-dose corticosteroids that help lower inflammation by suppressing the immune system. Rheumatoid arthritis, if left untreated, can result in deformity of joints and bone erosion. The earlier the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is made, the easy it is to treat the condition. If it is diagnosed later, it can cause lifelong complications. Therefore, you should never delay your visit to the healthcare provider if you have a complaint of joint pain. 


Symptoms


Rheumatoid arthritis is a lifelong condition whose symptoms come and go, the periods known as flare and remission respectively. The general signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are;


  • Tender joints

  • Warm joints

  • Swollen joints

  • Joint stiffness is usually worse in the mornings and after physical Inactivity

  • Fatigue

  • Fever 

  • Loss of appetite

  • Loss of joint function and deformities


The characteristic sign of rheumatoid arthritis to differentiate it from other types of arthritis is that it occurs symmetrically. If anyone joint is affected, the chances are quite high that the same joint of the other side will be affected. The most common symptom of rheumatoid arthritis is joint pain with inflammation. 


Rheumatoid arthritis affects the small joints first, mostly the ones that connect your fingers to your hands and the ones that connect your toe to the feet. After that, it may affect large joints too like the knee joint. Along with joints, it may also affect the following body parts.


  • Skin

  • Eyes

  • Lungs

  • Heart

  • Kidneys

  • Salivary glands

  • Nerve tissue

  • Bone marrow

  • Blood vessels



Causes 


Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease- a condition that occurs due to the hyperactivity of your immune system. It occurs when your immune system attacks your synovial membrane- a membrane that lines your joints. Due to this, the synovium swells, which can eventually destroy the cartilage and bone present within the joint. Slowly, the joint loses its alignment because the tendons and ligaments also lose their shape. 


Risk factors 


Factors that can put you at risk of getting rheumatoid arthritis are;


  • Female gender

  • Being middle-aged

  • Having a family history of rheumatoid arthritis

  • Smoking 

  • Exposure to asbestos or silica

  • Being overweight or obese

  • Viral infection 

  • Bacterial infection


Complications 


Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory condition that can damage the other parts of your body too. It can cause the following complications along with joint pain and swelling.



  • Dry eyes

  • Lymphomas 

  • Lung disease

  • Heart problem 

  • Osteoporosis

  • Dry mouth 

  • Infections 

  • Rheumatoid nodules

  • Abnormal body composition 


Treatment 


For the treatment, the healthcare providers may prescribe over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or naproxen. Along with that, they may also prescribe low-dose corticosteroids that help lower inflammation by suppressing the immune system. Rheumatoid arthritis, if left untreated can result in deformity of joints and bone erosion. The earlier the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is made, the easier it is to treat the condition. If it is diagnosed later, it can cause long-life complications.


Conclusion 


Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease- a condition that occurs due to the hyperactivity of your immune system. It not only affects your joints but can also pose damage to the lungs, nerves, skin, eyes, blood, and heart. The characteristic sign of rheumatoid arthritis to differentiate from other types of arthritis is that it occurs symmetrically.


Doctors For Rheumatoid Arthritis

Dr. Aamir Saeed

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Dr. Wajahat Aziz

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Dr. Amir Riaz

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Dr. Sajid Naseem

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Dr. Zareen Ahsan

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Dr. Tahseen Wazir

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