What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disorder that causes inflammation, swelling, pain in the joints, and other parts of the body.
It happens when your immune system starts attacking your joints. It tends to affect the whole body. Therefore, it is called an autoimmune disease in which the body’s nervous system gives the immune cells a signal to attack the healthy tissues inside the body, resulting in inflammation and pain in joints. This disease can also affect healthy skin, eyes, lungs, heart, blood, or nerves.
The covering outside the bone is called cartilage, which is responsible for helping the joints during movement. A membrane is present outside the cartilage is called the synovial membrane, and the function is to produce synovial fluid. This liquid provides nourishment to the cartilage as well as words as a lubricant. It occurs when there is inflammation in the synovial membrane; as a result, patients in such conditions suffer from extreme pain with every movement. Their joints might get red, swollen, and warm.
Types of Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Seropositive Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Seronegative Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
There are three types of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Seropositive Rheumatoid Arthritis:
Seropositive Rheumatoid Arthritis shows that the blood indicates the existence of antibodies that are responsible for causing Rheumatoid Arthritis. As per statistics, 60% to 80% of the patient with Rheumatoid arthritis are seropositive. The symptoms associated with seropositive Rheumatoid Arthritis are as follows:
- Rheumatoid nodules
- Swelling of joints
- Low-grade fever
Seronegative Rheumatoid Arthritis:
It is a condition in which there are no Rheumatoid Factor (RF) antibodies in the patient’s blood. The antibodies might be present in the blood, but in such low quantity that cannot be detected in tests. The symptoms associated with the Seronegative Rheumatoid Arthritis are as follows:
- Tenderness in joints
- Joint pain
- Redness in joints
- Eye redness
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis:
This type of arthritis occurs in people under the age of 17 years. It is the condition in which inflammation lasts for more than six weeks, and symptoms associated with this type of arthritis are:
- Warmth in joints
How Many Stages Of Rheumatoid Arthritis Are There?
There are four stages of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Early Stage – Stage 1:
It is an initial stage that is characterized by the joint inflammation in the capsule of the joints and swelling occurs in the synovial joints, during this stage, there is no inflammation in the bones but only in the joint linings. The symptoms associated with the early stage include swelling, joint stiffness, and pain.
Moderate Stage – Stage 2:
During the moderate stage, the inflammation in the joint reaches the severity and results in cartilage deterioration. The symptoms associated with the moderate stage include immobility or decreased range of motion of the joints.
Severe Stage – Stage 3:
Stage 3 is called a severe stage because the inflammation reaches the extent that it damages the cartilage and bones. Symptoms associated with the critical stage include pain, swelling, decrement in mobility, and even in the strengthening of the muscles, this may further results in bone deformity.
End-Stage – Stage 4:
It is the most critical stage in which the inflammation can result in the ceasing of joints, and they are unable to work. The symptoms associated with the severe stage include stiffness, pain, loss, or mobility. In this stage, joints damages and the ankylosis appears.
What Are The Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis?
The main symptoms associated with the rheumatoid arthritis are:
- Morning stiffness
- Stiffness after sitting for a long time
- Joint pain
- Joint swelling
- Warmthness in joints and redness
- Other symptoms include:
- Dry eyes due to inflammation
- High-grade fever
- Chest pain due to inflammation
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of weight
- Feeling lethargic
Causes Of Rheumatoid Arthritis:
Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease, and the exact cause of the malfunction of the immune system is still not known. In rheumatoid arthritis, the synovial membrane is attacked by the antibodies, which result in inflammation. Certain factors play an important role in causing Rheumatoid arthritis which is as follows:
Age is a factor for causing rheumatoid arthritis, and it occurs in people at the age of 40 to 60.
Mostly, women suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis as compared to men.
The people who are overweight have a higher risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis as the weight put lots of pressure on the weight-bearing joints, which results in inflammation.
The genetics and environmental factors are associated with causing the Rheumatoid Arthritis having a family history is also the cause of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Studies show that more consumption of red meat and less use of vitamin C in the diet increase the risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Smoking tends to increase the risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Trauma or injuries or joint dislocation can be a factor for causing Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Diagnosis Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Doctors diagnose rheumatoid arthritis with the help of medical history, physical examination, and various blood tests. The physical analysis is performed to find the joint movements, swelling, redness, reflexes, and muscle strength. It can be diagnosed with the help of the blood test, a single blood test is not sufficient for predicting Rheumatoid arthritis.
The list of blood tests that are performed are listed below:
- ESR-Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate
- CRP-C-Reactive Proteins
- CBC-Complete Blood Count
- Rheumatoid Factor Test
- If the person tests positive for the Rheumatoid factor, then several scans are performed to find the joints.
- X-rays: It shows the changes in the joints.
- Ultrasound: It shows the picture of the joints and the tissues with the help of sound waves.
- MRI: Magnetic Resonance Imaging is performed to find detailed pictures of the joints using the magnetic field and radiofrequency waves.
Treatment For Rheumatoid Arthritis
Treatment is possible with the help of the following:
- Physical Therapies
Several drugs are available for treating the Rheumatoid Arthritis which are:
- Pain killers
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Anti Rheumatic drugs
Physical therapies improve the condition of the Rheumatoid Arthritis as keeping yourself physically active improves the chances of muscle strengthening and reduces joint stiffness. Various therapies performed for treating Rheumatoid Arthritis are as follows:
- Occupational Therapy
Surgery is the only solution when the condition becomes critical. It is performed to reduce inflammation and restoring the normal activity of the joints.
Few of the risk factors associated with are:
- Obese patients
- Family History
- Environmental factor
- People above 60 years of age
Complications Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
It is different from osteoarthritis, as it does not only affect the joints. It is an autoimmune disorder and can also affect the organs.
Following are the associated complications:
Rheumatoid arthritis can cause inflammation in the body, such as lungs, heart, eyes, and blood vessels.
Carpel Tunel Syndrome
This syndrome is common among people with rheumatoid arthritis. This condition arises with the increased pressure on the wrist as compared to normal. The symptoms appear in this condition is the numbness in the thumb, aching and tingling sensations.
People with this disease are at higher risk of cardiovascular diseases.
If there is no proper treatment one could completely lose the joints and not be able to function.