What is rheumatoid arthritis?

Fast facts on what is rheumatoid arthritis:

Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that causes pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints. It is an autoimmune disease, meaning a disease in which the body’s immune system attacks itself.

The disease is symmetrical, in the sense if one wrist shows symptoms of pain, swelling or tenderness, the other wrist will also develop symptoms. The disease can affect any joint in the body.

What is rheumatoid arthritis – fast fact #1

* Some people may have the disease only for a few months to a year, after which symptoms may disappear altogether. Severe forms of the disease may last a lifetime. In such cases, joint damage may be extensive.

* Rheumatoid arthritis may affect anyone. Women and people over the age of 50 are more vulnerable. That said, rheumatoid arthritis may affect young children too.

Fast fact #2

Causes of rheumatoid arthritis are not known. But what is known is that in this form of arthritis, the body’s immune system attacks the tissues of the body.

However, research suggests that rheumatoid arthritis may be caused by hormones, genes and environmental factors.

What is rheumatoid arthritis – fast fact #3

Diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis is the beginning of the treatment process. There are no particular common symptoms for rheumatoid arthritis, so it is easy to confuse the disease with other joint diseases. Besides, full range of symptoms generally takes time to develop.

Doctors use a combination of physical tests, blood tests and imaging tests to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis treatments goals are simple:

    * Reduce pain, swelling and inflammation

    * Reduce the pace of progress of the disease

    * Help patients achieve better control of the disease and lead an active lifestyle

Strategies of treatment for rheumatoid-arthritis include:

    * Changes in lifestyle factors

    * Regular evaluation of the disease

    * Medication

    * Surgery

Alternative therapies are also being explored. These include special rheumatoid arthritis diet , vitamins and special exercises to manage symptoms and build a stronger immune system.

What is rheumatoid arthritis – fast fact #4

Although it is a debilitating disease, rheumatoid arthritis may be controlled with effective treatment. However, it is important to monitor treatment methods to ensure that patients are deriving maximum benefits.

It is possible for patients to measure their level of rheumatoid arthritis through 1DAS (Disease Activity Score). This includes measuring the severity of the disease based on tests as well as physical assessment including blood tests.

Thus, patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis must visit their doctor regularly. Doctors will assess the severity of the condition, check whether rheumatoid arthritis medications are needed and whether existing drugs are causing any side effects and they will recommend changes in treatment methods, if needed.

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