Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic form of conventional arthritis, different from osteoarthritis that causes unbearable discomfort, inflammation and loss of mobility in the joints. It is prevalent among the age group 25-55 (both men & women) and can affect any joint but is seen more in wrists and fingers. However, it can happen in any joint of the body.
Osteoarthritis is common in elder people. A class of distinguished Orthopedics states that rheumatoid arthritis can affect eyes, mouth, heart and lungs. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative conditions occurring due to excessive wear and tear.
The causes of RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) are unknown. It is referred to as an autoimmune disease. It can occur at any stage of life and particularly common in women than men. Normally, it affects both sides of joints equally such as wrists, fingers, knees, ankles and feet. The extent of this disease varies from person to person. Hereditary genes, certain infections and hormones are known to trigger the onset of the disease.
What are the symptoms?
The disease starts off slowly with symptoms like fatigue, loss of appetite, weakness and morning stiffness. Gradually it spreads affecting joints resulting in inflammation. When joints are rested over a longer duration, say overnight sleep, they become warm and tender and succumb to stiffness. Discomfort in the joints is felt on both sides of the body and may affect wrists, fingers, knees, ankles, toes, neck, hips and feet.
The ultimate diagnosis
Diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis commences with a Orthopedic conducting physical examination of joints and other parts of the body. Following that, he will be taking specific blood tests along with others including complete blood count, ESR, C-reactive protein, joint ultrasound or MRI, synovial fluid analysis.
Rheumatoid Arthritis involves lifelong treatment composed of medications, physiotherapy, exercises or even surgery. The disease does not wear off totally but the objective of the treatment is to minimize swelling, pain and prevent joint damage. Early medication has proven to be effective in reducing symptoms. The treatment is all the more effective when patient and family members coordinate with the doctor.
- Medicines: Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs (DMARDs) form the present standards of arthritis care along with strengthening exercises, rest and anti-inflammatory drugs. Methotrexate is the most common prescribed medicine for rheumatoid arthritis because not only it relieves pain; it also restricts the damage to the joints. DMARDs come in pills and shots. Other than DMARDs, certain anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen and corticosteroids are also prescribed by the orthopedic.
- Surgery: Periodically, surgery is required to rectify severely damaged joints and relieve pain and discomfort. Surgeries can alleviate joint pain and significantly improve joint flexibility. The surgeries which are common these days are of hips and knees. These are performed by orthopedic surgeons who are adept at surgeries.
Physiotherapy: Physiotherapy has long been proven to mobilize the joint functionality. It includes a variety of motion exercises and individualized exercise programmes involving heat & cold treatments, splints and joint protection techniques. Occupational therapists advice people on how to perform everyday tasks efficiently while suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.