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Learn Everything About Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA): Symptoms, Treatment and Causes

Last updated on : 11 Jun, 2024

Read time : 9 min

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

People usually wonder about rheumatism’s meaning. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or rheumatism is one of the forms that happens when the immune system doesn’t work properly. In Rheumatoid Arthritis, the synovium, the lining that lines the joints, is attacked by the immune system acting improperly. The hands, knees, or ankles are frequently affected by the condition, and it typically affects the same joint on both sides of the body, such as both hands or both knees. However, there are instances where Rheumatoid Arthritis also results in issues with the heart, circulatory system, eyes, and/or lungs. Rheumatoid Arthritis primarily affects women over males and typically appears in middle life for unexplained reasons. An increased risk of acquiring RA is associated with a family member’s RA.

3 Major Types of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis is classified into 3 major types, mentioned below:

1) Seropositive Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Individuals with this type of RA have elevated blood levels of antibodies known as anti-cyclic citrullinated peptides (anti-CCP).
  • Antibodies of this type may manifest up to ten years before symptoms do.
  • This group comprises between 60 and 80 percent of RA patients, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
  • Rheumatoid factor (RF) is another antibody that some people may carry, however, this does not always indicate that they have RA.

2) Seronegative Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • It can be more difficult to diagnose someone with seronegative RA because they don’t have these antibodies in their blood.

3) Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis in Children (JIA)

  • JIA, which was once known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, affects children younger than sixteen.
  • It’s a distinct kind of RA that requires particular consideration and treatment.

Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis

There are no multiple rheumatoid arthritis causes. The cause of immune system hyperactivity and RA remains unknown. In RA, the immune system strikes the synovium, the lining that lines joints, causing swelling and pain. If this swelling is left untreated, the cartilage that cushions the bones may be harmed. Additionally, it can weaken the ligaments and tendons that hold the joint together, which can seriously injure the joint and cause it to lose its shape.

Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis can cause one or more joints to become inflamed and painful. Although it can occur in various joints, the little joints in the hands, wrists, and feet are the most frequently affected.

Being chronic, RA may get worse over time if treatment is not received. Severe injury to the joint and surrounding tissue may result from it. The nervous system, heart, and lungs may also be impacted.

Some Common Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms are:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness in the joints
  • Tenderness
  • Swelling or redness in one or more joints

However, rheumatoid arthritis symptoms may vary from person to person. It is advised not to ignore rheumatoid arthritis symptoms even if you experience occasional joint pain, as an early treatment manages the condition well.

Some Additional Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms are:

  • Weight loss
  • Sweating
  • Dry eyes
  • Chest pain
  • Tiredness
  • Lack of energy
  • Poor appetite
  • High temperature

RA causes inflammation in any joint of the body, few people can even develop fleshy lumps called rheumatoid nodules that develop in the skin around the affected joints.
RA symptoms are first developed in smaller joints, in the hands and toes, as the disease progresses, rheumatoid arthritis symptoms can be noticed in the knee, wrist, ankles, elbow, hips, and shoulders.
Other areas of the body where rheumatoid arthritis causes discomfort include-

  • Kidney
  • Bone marrow
  • Eyes
  • Skin
  • Heart
  • Lungs

Risk Factors for Rheumatoid Arthritis

As per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), persons who may be more susceptible to RA include those who:

  • Are female
  • 60 years of age or older
  • Carry specific genes
  • Have never given birth
  • Are obese
  • Smoke, or had parents who smoked when they were young

Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatology means the study of disorders or diseases related to joints. General physicians usually do the rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis and when a patient is diagnosed with RA, their physician may recommend that they see a rheumatologist, who can provide treatment recommendations.

The goal of treatment will be to:

  • Avoid flare-ups and lessen their intensity if they do happen lessen joint inflammation
  • Reduce any function loss brought on by discomfort, joint injury, or deformity
  • Slow down or stop organ and joint damage
  • Medication, physical therapy, occupational therapy, counseling, and surgery are among the options.

Lifestyle Tips and Home Remedies for Rheumatoid Arthritis

People who have Rheumatoid Arthritis must take care of their bodies. These lifestyle changes, when used along with RA medications can help to manage signs and symptoms of the disease. Some of the common and basic Home remedies to treat Rheumatoid Arthritis are;

1) Exercise Regularly

Practicing exercise can help strengthen the muscles around the joints, and it may help to reduce fatigue. Mild physical activities like swimming or walking might also assist in maintaining joint flexibility and lessening stiffness.

2) Apply Heat or Cold Packs

Applying heat or cold packs can also relieve pain and inflammation in afflicted joints.

3) Sleep

Preventing flare-ups and enhancing well-being can be achieved by getting adequate sleep and controlling stress.

4) Diet

Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids benefit the management of RA.

Some foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids include-

  • Kidney beans
  • Dark chocolates
  • Spinach
  • Berries
  • Artichokes

Foods rich in flavonoids also help to counter the inflammation in the body, some flavonoid-rich foods include-

  • Broccoli
  • Berries
  • Green tea
  • Grapes
  • Soy products

Medications Used to Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis

Certain medications can help reduce symptoms and decrease the rate at which the illness worsens.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) are available without a prescription from pharmacies. However, using them excessively or for a longer period of time can lead to side effects like high blood pressure, bruising, stomach ulcers, and problems with your liver and kidneys.
Corticosteroids are another example. Although they can help delay joint deterioration and reduce pain and swelling, corticosteroids cannot reverse the condition. If NSAIDs are ineffective, your doctor may inject a steroid into your joint. Although the duration of the alleviation may vary, it can come on quickly. Because administering these injections more frequently can cause pain, they are only done a few times a year.

Prevention of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Maintaining the health of your joints is one way to prevent rheumatoid arthritis. Maintaining a healthy and average weight is another strategy to avoid joint strain caused by excess weight. Engage in frequent exercise to maintain strong and flexible joints.

Consuming a diet with fruits, veggies, and omega-3 fatty acids and well-balanced can also be beneficial. Limiting alcohol use and quitting smoking can help lower your chance of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

Finally, keep in mind that stress and sleep deprivation can exacerbate symptoms, so make an effort to control both. For specific guidance, discuss your worries with your doctor if you have rheumatoid arthritis.

Also Read: Home Remedies for Joint Pain That Works Miracles

Takeaway

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic (long-term), autoimmune disease that can destroy joints and make daily activities difficult for a person to do. Inflammation all over the body might result from it in addition to affecting joints.

Seeing a doctor early on can help lower the likelihood of long-term issues for anyone experiencing pain and swelling in two or more joints that aren’t related to trauma.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the main cause of rheumatism?

The main cause of rheumatism is inflammation in the joints and surrounding tissues.

What are the symptoms of rheumatism?

Symptoms of rheumatism can include joint pain, swelling, stiffness, and difficulty moving.

What is the difference between arthritis and rheumatism?

Arthritis is a type of rheumatism that specifically affects the joints, while rheumatism can refer to a broader range of musculoskeletal conditions.

At what age does rheumatism start?

Rheumatism can start at any age, but it’s more common in older adults.

Can rheumatism be cured?

Rheumatism cannot be cured, but treatments can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

What is the best treatment for rheumatism?

The best treatment for rheumatism depends on the individual and may include medications, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes.

How do you treat rheumatism at home?

At home, you can manage rheumatism by staying active with gentle exercises, applying heat or cold packs to affected joints, maintaining a healthy weight, and eating an anti-inflammatory diet.

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Our healthcare experts have carefully reviewed and compiled the information presented here to ensure accuracy and trustworthiness. It is important to note that this information serves as a general overview of the topic and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, prevent, or cure any health problem. This page does not establish a doctor-patient relationship, nor does it replace the advice or consultation of a registered medical practitioner. We recommend seeking guidance from your registered medical practitioner for any questions or concerns regarding your medical condition.

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