Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease that primarily affects the joints, causing inflammation, pain, and stiffness. It can also affect other parts of the body, such as the skin, eyes, heart, and lungs. RA occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's own tissues, particularly the lining of the joints, leading to joint damage and deformity over time.

Here are some key points about rheumatoid arthritis:

  • Symptoms: Common symptoms of RA include joint pain, swelling, and stiffness, especially in the hands, wrists, and feet. Morning stiffness that lasts for more than an hour is a characteristic feature. Fatigue, loss of appetite, and a general feeling of being unwell may also occur.
  • Progression: Rheumatoid arthritis is a progressive disease that can worsen over time if left untreated. It can lead to joint deformity, functional impairment, and reduced quality of life. However, early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can help manage symptoms and slow down disease progression.
  • Diagnosis: RA is typically diagnosed through a combination of medical history, physical examination, blood tests (such as rheumatoid factor and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies), and imaging (X-rays or ultrasound) to assess joint damage and inflammation.
  • Treatment: The goal of treatment for rheumatoid arthritis is to reduce pain, inflammation, and joint damage, improve physical function, and enhance overall well-being. This is usually achieved through a combination of medications (such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, and biologic agents), physical therapy, assistive devices, and lifestyle modifications (such as regular exercise and stress management).
  • Multidisciplinary Approach: RA management often involves a multidisciplinary team, including rheumatologists, primary care physicians, physical therapists, and occupational therapists. They work together to develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses individual needs and preferences.

It's important for individuals with rheumatoid arthritis to actively participate in their treatment, adhere to medications, and communicate any changes or concerns to their healthcare team. Regular monitoring and adjustments to the treatment plan may be necessary to manage symptoms effectively and improve quality of life.