What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
In this article, we’ll discuss rheumatoid arthritis (RA). RA is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the cartilage and synovium, causing uncontrolled inflammation. The good news is that it is treatable, and you can live an everyday, active life with treatment.
RA is an autoimmune disorder.
RA is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes inflammation throughout the body. While there is no cure for RA, new treatments have been incredibly effective. With the proper treatment and lifestyle changes, RA sufferers can reach remission. Getting a correct diagnosis is essential in determining the best treatment.
Inflammation in the joints is the most common symptom of RA. Other symptoms of RA may include skin rashes, dry eyes, and nerve damage. In severe cases, RA may also affect the heart and lungs. Although it is rare to develop this condition, it is still a significant health concern. While the cause of RA is unknown, environmental factors and genes controlling the immune system can increase the risk. People with a family history of autoimmune diseases are also at a higher risk.
In the early stages, the disease may not be apparent at all. However, the presence of anti-CCP antibodies in the blood may be a warning sign. Anti-CCP antibodies may be present in 50 to 78% of people with RA. In addition, a person with RA may have these antibodies even before symptoms appear.
It affects cartilage and synovium.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a degenerative inflammatory disease of the joints in which cartilage and synovium become degenerated. The synovium consists of chondrocytes and a dense extracellular matrix that contains type II collagen and glycosaminoglycans. In RA, the synovium becomes hyperplastic, resulting in significant cartilage damage. The ECM produces inflammatory signals that stimulate the synthesis of MMPs, which cause the breakdown of type II collagen networks. These changes in the cartilage structure result in biomechanical dysfunction.
Synovitis is a common symptom of inflammatory arthritis, which causes overgrowth of the synovium. This overgrowth results from an abnormal immune response that misidentifies natural cartilage as foreign. The chief symptom of synovitis is a pain in the joint, which is more intense than it would be from other causes. The pain may be accompanied by swelling or redness in the joint area.
It causes uncontrolled inflammation.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes uncontrolled inflammation in the joints and organs. It is more common in women than men but can strike at any age. Although it is not curable, it can be managed with proper care and treatment. Some risk factors include smoking, which increases the disease risk. Overweight people are also at higher risk.
The disease typically begins with smaller joints like the fingers, elbows, or wrists and eventually progresses to larger joints like the hips and shoulders. It may also cause painful swelling and deformity in the hands or feet. The symptoms may come and go in flares, with periods of relative remission. Some patients also develop carpal tunnel syndrome or black areas under their nails.
It can be treated with anti-rheumatic medicines.
Although there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, early treatment with anti-rheumatic medicines can improve symptoms and reduce disability. These medicines are classified as DMARDs (disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs). Different medicines are used depending on the severity of symptoms and the length of the disease.
DMARDs are commonly prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis. These medicines act by inhibiting the activity of the immune system. Some of them, called disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), take several weeks to show any clinical effects. The drugs used for treating rheumatoid arthritis include methotrexate, sulfasalazine, leflunomide, etanercept, and rituximab.
NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) reduce inflammation and pain. These can be purchased over-the-counter and are often used as first-line treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. However, stronger NSAIDs can have dangerous side effects, such as gastrointestinal upset, heart attack, or kidney damage. Corticosteroid medications can also be prescribed, slowing the disease’s progression.
It can be treated with surgery.
Surgery is one of the options for treating rheumatoid arthritis. It is a complex procedure, and the operation’s success depends on several factors, including the patient’s overall health, ability to follow postoperative physical therapy, and the surgeon’s skill. Surgery is most appropriate when the disease has impacted the patient’s daily life, such as when the affected joint is painful or stiff or when a tendon has ruptured. Rheumatologists and hand surgeons often collaborate to select the best surgical option for each patient.
Medical treatments for rheumatoid arthritis often include drugs that inhibit the immune system and reduce inflammation. These drugs are called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and can be either oral or intravenous. DMARDs can work to reduce the inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis and protect joints from damage. However, some drugs can have adverse side effects and place patients at risk for infection. Therefore, patients should constantly be monitored closely by their health care providers when taking DMARDs.