How Rheumatoid Arthritis Attacks Your Physical & Emotional Health?
Arthritis is a medical condition in which an individual experiences inflammation (redness, warmth, swelling, and pain) in the joints. Rheumatoid Arthritis has evolved as a variant of common arthritis (a chronic medical condition in joints on both sides of the body, such as on both hands or wrists and knees)
Rheumatoid Arthritis may occasionally affect different parts of the body such as skin, eyes, lungs, heart, blood, nerves, or kidneys, and the joints, and have a few minimal symptoms of arthritis.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is also a common type of auto-immune disease, i.e., the patient's immune system starts attacking itself, and in some cases, it may lead to some or all the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
People between the age of 20-50 are generally prone to develop rheumatoid arthritis, and women are 2.5 times more likely to get rheumatoid arthritis than men.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms And Causes:
The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is yet to be known. However, it is believed that it is caused due to a combination of certain factors, such as:
- Genetics of the person (heredity cause)
- Hormonal Problems
- Environmental Causes
- Abnormal immunity
Usually, the average human body is protected against foreign materials or diseases by its immune system. People who have rheumatoid arthritis probably get infections from smoking cigars or cigarettes or from any physical, mental, or emotional stress that triggers their immune systems to attack the joints or, in some cases, their organs.
Factors such as genes, gender, heredity, etc., play a significant role in determining the risks of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
The primary symptoms of arthritis include the following:
- Pain in joint and swelling
- Stiff joints, especially in the morning or after sitting for an extended period
Rheumatoid arthritis affects different persons in different ways. Majorly people experience joint pains, which may gradually develop over several years, whereas, for some people, it may proceed rapidly. Also, in some cases, people may have rheumatoid arthritis for a limited time, and then it might go into remission, i.e., a phase with no symptoms.
Usually, the cartilage between the joints acts as a shock absorber. The uncontrolled inflammation destroys and wears down the cartilage, leading to joint deformities. Eventually, the bone erodes itself with time, leading to fusion of the joint, i.e., an effort to protect the body from constant and repeated irritation.
Now, several people's most frequently asked question is 'how to cure rheumatoid arthritis permanently?'
There is no natural cure for rheumatoid arthritis yet, but according to clinical studies, the phase of remission is when the early treatment begins with DMARDs medication (disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs)
The main objective to treat a patient who has rheumatoid arthritis is to:
- Control signs and symptoms of the patient
- Prevent any further joint damage
- Maintain and offer the patient a quality life and ability to function
Usually, the joint damage occurs within the first two years of such diagnosis. It thus becomes essential to diagnose and treat rheumatoid arthritis at its earliest to prevent and decrease the sufferings of such long-term consequences.
Depending on the severity or seriousness of the symptoms and the duration of arthritis, your doctor recommends you medicines:
NSAIDs: NSAIDs or Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs help relieve pain and reduce inflammation. NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve) and the more potent dosages are available only by prescriptions.
Heart problems, stomach irritation, and kidney damage are the most common side effects.
Steroids: To reduce inflammation and pain and slow joint damage, corticosteroid medications, such as prednisone, are used. Some of the significant side-effects including thinning of bones, weight gain, and diabetes. To relieve symptoms quickly, doctors often prescribe corticosteroids to taper off the medication eventually.
DMARDs: DMARDs (disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs) are used to slow the progression of rheumatoid arthritis, which saves the joints and other tissues from getting damaged permanently
DMARDs include include methotrexate (Trexall, Otrexup, others), leflunomide (Arava), hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) and sulfasalazine (Azulfidine).
Liver damage and severe lung infections are among the most common side effects.
Biologic agents: Also known as the newer class of DMARDs, these biologic response modifiers include abatacept (Orencia), adalimumab (Humira), anakinra (Kineret), certolizumab (Cimzia), etanercept (Enbrel), golimumab (Simponi), infliximab (Remicade), rituximab (Rituxan), sarilumab (Kevzara) and tocilizumab (Actemra).
It is the most effective when paired with conventional DMARD such as methotrexate. However, it increases the risk of getting infections.
Targeted synthetic DMARDs:
If conventional DMARDs and biologics don't prove to be effective, then these synthetic DMARDs can be used, such as Baricitinib (Olumiant), tofacitinib (Xeljanz), and upadacitinib (Rinvoq).
But, if consumed in a higher concentration/dose, it can increase the risk of getting blood clots in the lungs, heart-related severe events, and even cancer.
Several Non-pharmacologic therapies also prove to be helpful to cure rheumatoid arthritis permanently, such as:
Rest: On experiencing joint inflammations, the risk of getting injuries around joints and nearby tissues increases. Thus, the inflamed joint(s) needs to be rested. To avoid such conditions, one must maintain a high level of physical fitness.
Exercises: When people stay inactive for a long time, pain and stiffness become common. This inactivity leads to a loss of joint motion, contractions, and a loss of muscle strength, and this, in turn, decreases joint stability and increases fatigue.
Exercising regularly and following therapies with the help of physical therapists and occupational therapists help prevent these effects. Joint exercises such as walking, swimming, and cycling increase endurance and restore joint motion.
Physical and occupational therapy:
Rheumatoid Arthritis can also be treated by physical and occupational therapy to help relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and help preserve the joint structure and function for patients.
Occupational therapists focus on helping people with rheumatoid arthritis by participating actively in recreational activity and work, with particular attention to maintaining the excellent function of the hands and arms.
Nutrition and dietary therapy:
For obese people, weight loss may be recommended to help reduce stress on the inflamed joints.
People with rheumatoid arthritis are at a higher risk of developing coronary artery disease. Depending on the type of the body, a nutritionist can recommend specific foods that you should avoid or eat to reach a desirable cholesterol level.
To detect rheumatoid arthritis, other auto-immune diseases, and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) test is conducted. ESR is a blood test that helps measure how quickly erythrocytes or red blood cells (RBC) settle at the bottom of a test tube containing the blood sample. Typically, these cells move relatively slower, but if it drops faster than the standard rate, it is assumable that the person has inflammation in the body.
Generally, inflammations indicate any infection or injury within the body. It may also be a sign of immune disorder, chronic diseases, or other medical conditions.
An ESR test helps determine if any inflammation exists in your body and may be used to monitor an existing condition, including arthritis, vasculitis, etc.
Having a high ESR indicates an inflammatory disorder.
If you have Rheumatoid Arthritis, it can be exhausting both physically and emotionally. However, there's no alternative to regular full body checkups in case of pain that persists, and if you are genetically at risk of being diagnosed with it, the earlier you get detected, the better!