10 Facts About Rheumatoid Arthritis

10 Facts About Rheumatoid Arthritis

  1. Rheumatoid Arthritis(RA) is an autoimmune disorder. In RA, the immune system starts attacking bodies own healthy lining of the joints. It is more prevalent in females and has a hereditary component. It is a chronic disease.
  2. Most commonly, RA affects the wrist, finger joints, and feet. The joints become painful and stiff. Stiffness is there in the morning or after a period of inactivity. Tenderness is present at the base of the finger and middle joints of fingers. The base joints of the toes are also tender. The affected joints are red, swollen, and warm to the touch. Red palm is common in Rheumatoid arthritis. Another characteristic of RA is the symmetrical involvement of joints. For example, bilateral involvement of hands and feet.
  3. The involvement of three or more joints for at least six weeks is one of the diagnostic criterion for Rheumatoid arthritis. If left untreated, RA can damage joints, cartilage, and bones leading to the destruction of the joint and deformities.
  4. Rheumatoid nodules formation under the skin of the affected joint is also seen. Rheumatoid nodules are firm lumps of tissues usually found at pressure points like the elbow.
  5. Rheumatoid fatigue- The general fatigue and tiredness in daily activities is an early sign of rheumatoid arthritis. There is a feeling of complete exhaustion. Besides this, weight loss, fever, and poor appetite are present in patients with RA.
  6. Rheumatoid arthritis can also have systemic involvement, affecting the skin, eyes, lungs, and cardiovascular system.
  7. Blood picture-Presence of Rheumatoid factor, anti-CCP(Cyclic Citrullinated Peptide) antibodies, increased Erythrocyte Sedimentation rate (ESR), and C-reactive protein(CRP) are some diagnostic markers of RA. Radiological imaging helps to determine the extent of damage to the affected joint.
  8. Treatment options- Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are the mainline treatment for rheumatoid arthritis along with the NSAIDs and steroids. They help with symptoms and in slowing the progression of RA. Physical therapy helps with pain and stiffness. Surgery is needed to correct any deformities.
  9. Exercises are crucial to maintain joint mobility and reduce stiffness. ROM exercises are good to start. Improved muscle strength through strengthening exercises helps in supporting joints. Alternating periods of rest and physical activity are crucial to avoid stiffness. Splints help in improving joint function. Avoid high-impact activities to avoid any damage to the joints.
  10. Early diagnosis is of paramount importance for a better prognosis of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. In the early stages, inflammation is less and easy to control. So look for early warning signs of RA and get necessary medical help from a rheumatologist at the earliest.


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