Rheumatoid arthritis is a health problem that affects your joints. These joints are the points that connect your bones and allow you to have some movements. Not only that, but most of these joints, known as synovial joints, can also provide your body with shock absorption.
Rheumatoid arthritis is considered an autoimmune disease that can cause swelling and pain to your joints. This happens when your immune system mistakenly identifies your joint linings as foreign and attacks plus damages them instead. Moreover, this health problem most likely impacts the joints located on both sides of your body. This includes both hands, both wrists, and both knees.
Inflammation and pain in the joints are the most common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. These symptoms tend to occur during periods known as exacerbations or flares. However, other times, they are known as periods of remission or the stage when symptoms disappear entirely.
Rheumatoid arthritis can affect many organs in your body. This includes the lungs, skin, heart, eyes, and blood vessels. However, the joint symptoms of this condition are the following:
- Joint pain
- Joint stiffness
- Joint swelling
- Deformities and loss of joint function
Symptoms most likely range from mild to severe. It is vital not to ignore any of the symptoms above, even if they seem to come and go. Furthermore, knowing the early signs of rheumatoid arthritis can help you and your doctor to manage the condition and provide better treatment.
Diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis is not easy. It can take time and might require you several laboratory tests in order to confirm the clinical examination findings. Not only that, but your healthcare provider will most likely use several tools in diagnosing this health problem.
In diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis, doctors might ask you about your medical history and the symptoms you are currently experiencing. They will also require you to have a physical examination on your joints, which includes the following:
- Examining the range of motion and joint function
- Looking for redness and swelling
- Testing your muscle strength and reflexes
- Touching the affected joints to look for tenderness or warmth
If your doctor suspects you of having rheumatoid arthritis, you will most likely be referred to a rheumatologist. Moreover, since diagnosing this condition is not possible in just one single test, your rheumatologist might use different types of tests to confirm the diagnosis.
They might check your blood for specific substances such as antibodies or examine the level of a particular substance, such as acute phase reactants that are uplifted when you most likely have inflammatory conditions. These can help support the diagnosis.
Doctors might also require you to have imaging tests like X-ray, ultrasound, and MRI. These tests present an illustration of if you have joint damage and how serious or severe the damage is. Furthermore, complete monitoring and evaluation of other organ systems might also be recommended for patients with this condition.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis. However, some treatments can help you in managing it. You and your doctor can work hand in hand in finding the best way to treat the symptoms and slow down the progression of this health problem.
Recently, there have been some advances in treatment strategies. This resulted in the ever-improving quality of life for those who are experiencing rheumatoid arthritis. To effectively manage this condition, most rheumatologists use the treat-to-target approach.
The treat-to-target approach has been seen to reduce the symptoms and provide higher remission rates for rheumatoid arthritis patients. This approach involves the following:
- Setting a particular testing goal that communicates or signals either a low disease state or remission
- Examining acute phase reactants and doing some monthly monitoring in order to track and check any progress of the treatment and management plan
- Switching the medication regimen (that is if there has been no progress in the treatment)
Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis can help control the inflammatory response and manage the pain. Moreover, decreasing the inflammation is also a great advantage to prevent further organ and joint damage. Treatments might include the following:
- Alternative or home remedies
- Dietary changes
- Certain exercises
Moreover, to deal with the expenses to manage rheumatoid arthritis, you can avail of various discounts, such as BuzzRx’s coupons. This way, you wouldn’t have to pay too much just to be able to live comfortably despite the illness.
The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is still unknown as of today. However, some factors seem to trigger its onset or increase the risk of this condition.
Below are some of the factors that may trigger the onset of rheumatoid arthritis:
- Exposure to particular types of bacteria like those that are connected to periodontal disease.
- Trauma or injury like ligament damage, bone breakage or fracture, and dislocation of the joint
- Having a history of viral infections like the Epstein-Barr virus
- Having obesity
- Smoking cigarettes
The following are some of the factors that might increase your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis:
- Having a family history of having rheumatoid arthritis
- Being a woman
To Wrap It Up
Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition that causes your joints to swell and feel pain. Unfortunately, this condition has no cure. However, it can be treated by using different strategies that work best for your body to manage it correctly.