What is RA (Autoimmune)
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is simply an autoimmune disease that causes the body’s immune system to attack the joints mistakenly. By doing so, it creates an inflammation that causes the thickening of the synovium (tissue lining the inside part of joints). Consequently, it results to swelling and pain around and in the joints.
If the inflammation remains unchecked, it damages the cartilage (the elastic tissue covering both ends of bones within a joint and the bones themselves too). Within sometime, patients experience loss of cartilage. The joint spacing that is between bones also becomes smaller. Your joints can lose mobility and become painful, unstable, and loose. Joint deformity is also a possibility. Of great importance to note is that joint damage is irreversible. Since it can take place early, doctors normally recommend aggressive treatment and early diagnosis in order to control RA.
Rheumatic arthritis commonly affects the joints of ankles, knees, elbows, wrists, feet, and hands. Effects to the joint is normally symmetrical. This simply means that if one hand or knee is affected, the one must be affected as well.
RA is also known as a systemic disease because it can affect body systems like the respiratory or cardiovascular systems.Systemic here means or refers to the ‘entire body.’
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
In the initial stages, patients of RA might not experience swelling or redness within the joints. However, they can experience pain and tenderness.
The following are joint symptoms that give a clue to RA:
- Morning stiffness for thirty minutes or even longer
- Stiffness, swelling, tenderness or joint pain for 6 weeks or even longer
- Effects to more than one joint
- Effects to small joints (feet, wrists or particular joints of your hands)
- Effects to same joints on either side of the body
- A good number of people experience low-grade fever, loss of appetite and fatigue coupled with pain.
RA effects and symptoms might come and go. Flare is the time or period of high disease activity. This period can last for several months or days.
Primary care physicians might suspect RA depending on your symptoms and signs. If this is the case, patients are referred to rheumatologists (specialists with specific skills and training to treat and diagnose RA). In its maiden stages, the condition might resemble some other types of inflammatory arthritis. The truth is that there is no one single test that confirm RA. For proper diagnosis, a rheumatologist will inquire about family and personal medical history. Additionally, he or she will conduct a physical exam. Finally, the medical professional will order diagnostic tests.
The following are the main goals of RA treatment:
- To relieve symptoms
- To stop inflammation
- To prevent organ and joint damage
- To enhance overall well-being and physical function
- To reduce long-term complications
To meet all these goals, the rheumatologist will follow these strategies:
- Aggressive, early treatment: Using this primary strategy, he or she will reduce the inflammation as real time as possible
- Targeting remission: Through targeting remission, the rheumatologist stops inflammation or tries to achieve minimal or totally no signs of active inflammation
- Tight control: ‘Tight control’ simply means that the medical professional gets RA to a low level and ensures it remains there
When it comes to medications of RA, different drugs can be utilized to treat it. Some drugs come in handy to primarily ease its symptoms while others are magical in stopping or slowing the course of the condition. Such drugs inhibit its structural damage.
Outcome, Quality of life, Modifications, Daily Living
When it comes to self-management or self-care, patients need to take a proactive role in treatment as well as maintaining an excellent quality of life. Manage RA symptoms and promote your overall health through the following ways:
Health eating and anti-inflammatory diet
While there might be no specific ‘diet’ for RA, extensive research has identified these foods to help reduce and control inflammation.
Balancing activity and rest
When your joints feel painful, stiff, or swollen and RA is active, rest is highly important. Rest comes in handy in reducing fatigue and inflammation that is common with a flare. By taking breaks throughout the entire day, you are able to protect joints and conserve energy.
For patients with PA exercise can be more than beneficial. Actually, some medical professionals consider it a major form of RA treatment. Exercises ought to put emphasis on flexibility, muscle strengthening and low-impact aerobics.
Living with RA can be very difficult for some. The important thing is to remember with a healthy lifestyle and learning to make modifications, it is possible to live a full and happy life.