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
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling of joints
  • Pain
  • Low-grade fever
  • Fatigue

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
  • Stiffness
  • Redness in joints
  • Inflammation
  • Fatigue
  • 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:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Warmth in joints
  • Soreness

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
  • Sweating
  • Chest pain due to inflammation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of weight
  • Feeling lethargic
  • Fatigue
Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms

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

Age is a factor for causing rheumatoid arthritis, and it occurs in people at the age of 40 to 60.

Gender

Mostly, women suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis as compared to men.

Weight

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.

Genetics

The genetics and environmental factors are associated with causing the Rheumatoid Arthritis having a family history is also the cause of Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Diet

Studies show that more consumption of red meat and less use of vitamin C in the diet increase the risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Smoking

Smoking tends to increase the risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Trauma

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:

  • Medications
  • Physical Therapies
  • Surgery

Medication

Several drugs are available for treating the Rheumatoid Arthritis which are:

  • Pain killers
  • Corticosteroids
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Anti Rheumatic drugs

Physical Therapies

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:

  • Physiotherapy
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Occupational Therapy

Surgery

Surgery is the only solution when the condition becomes critical. It is performed to reduce inflammation and restoring the normal activity of the joints.

Risk Factors

Few of the risk factors associated with are:

  • Obese patients
  • Family History
  • Environmental factor
  • People above 60 years of age
  • Injury
Rheumatoid Arthritis

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:

Inflammation

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.

Heart Diseases

People with this disease are at higher risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Joint Damages

If there is no proper treatment one could completely lose the joints and not be able to function.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Complications

Rheumatoid Arthritis FAQs

Question 1

What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Answer: In medical terms, it is defined as an Autoimmune systematic disorder that causes inflammation, swelling, and pain around the joints. Here systematic means many parts of the body are involved.

Question 2

Why Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disorder?
Answer: It is called an autoimmune disorder because the immune system plays a major role in inflammation and damaging the joints.

Question 3

Is there any cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Answer: We now know the various causes of this disease and how to control it. Still, at present, there is no sure shot cure—administering the right drugs like disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) joint damage and inflammation can be prevented. It is to control the disease at an early stage to avoid any joint erosions and long-term damages.

Question 4

Can die changes helps improve my RA?
Answer: A Healthy Diet and lifestyle play a huge role in patients suffering from RA. Doctors also prescribe a well-balanced diet. It won’t cure your RA but will help in reducing inflammation from rheumatoid arthritis. Also, maintaining your body weight reduces the pressure put on the joints. Some research suggests that eating fish, fruits and veggies, nuts, peas, beans, and others leads to less disease-related symptoms.

Question 5

How is stress related to Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Answer: Many patients said that their RA began; stress was present or severe. It is true for autoimmune disorders as well. It is due to the interactions between the nervous, immune system, and endocrine systems, stress impact on disease worsen. The molecules called cytokinesis released, which causes inflammation in joints. It is also released when a person is stressed. Therefore, if you are suffering from RA as well as stress, you are more likely to develop worse inflammation, which will result in more pain.

Question 6

Can RA damage internal organs?
Answer: In some cases, RA can also cause inflammation in internal organs, but this is a rare situation. Some internal organs problems because of RA are Lung inflammation, Eye inflammation called scleritis, nerve irritation called neuropathy, etc.

Related Topics: