Rheumatoid arthritis is a health condition that causes swelling, pain, and stiffness in the joints. It can affect people of different age groups, and your situation may worsen gradually over a short period. The flare-ups of rheumatoid arthritis can be difficult to predict and its symptoms usually affect the wrists, feet, and hands.
Health experts recommend early diagnosis and comprehensive treatment to reduce and prevent long-term effects of rheumatoid arthritis to the joints. Some individuals may also develop secondary problems in other parts of the body and other symptoms such as weight loss and tiredness. This article looks into the causes of rheumatoid arthritis, its symptoms, treatment, and prevention methods.
What Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Entail?
Most of our joints are designed to allow movement of the bones in different directions and within certain limits. If a person has rheumatoid arthritis, their immune system causes inflammation inside the joints or affected area. Inflammation is an essential part of how the immune system works as it allows the body to transport blood and extra fluid to the part of the body under attack from the infection. However, inflammation in the joint may be unnecessary in the case of rheumatoid arthritis as it causes more problems.
This means that your body’s natural self-defense system begins to attack the healthy tissues of your body instead of offering protection. The capsule around the synovium becomes stretched when the inflammation goes down and cannot hold the joint its rightful position. As a result, the joint becomes unstable and shifts into an unusual position thus causing rheumatoid arthritis.
What are the Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that alters your immune system to attack the cells in your joints mistakenly causing pain, stiffness, and swelling in the affected region. Although it is not clear what might trigger such an error in your immune system, it is commonly associated with age, genetics, weight, and lifestyle habits. People who have a family history of rheumatoid arthritis are at high risk of developing this condition. Environmental factors such as unhealthy diet, smoking, and obesity may also cause rheumatoid arthritis.
Diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is usually based on the symptoms of a patient, physical examination, and test results from scans, x-rays and blood tests. It is important to tell your doctor about any symptoms you might have experienced even if they do not seem related, since rheumatoid arthritis may also affect other parts of your body.
Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis has a variety of treatments that can only be effective if started early. The three treatment options for rheumatoid arthritis include drugs, physical therapies, and surgery. A patient may be required to take more than one drug since different types of medication work in different ways. Drug treatments may vary from time to time depending on the severity of your symptoms. Supportive treatments such as occupational therapy and physiotherapy help improve mobility and functionality of your joints. Surgery is often sought as the last treatment option to correct joint problems that may develop.
Home Remedies for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Some of the home remedies and lifestyle adjustments for rheumatoid arthritis include exercises, assistive devices, and a healthy diet. Exercises can increase your mobility by improving the range of motion in your joints and strengthening the body muscles. This helps to relieve pressure from your joints, which reduces pain and increases flexibility. Cold compresses or ice packs can also help reduce pain and inflammation.
You can also use hot compresses and warm showers to reduce stiffness in the joints. Braces and splints are assistive devices that can be used to hold joints in a resting position. Crutches and canes also help maintain mobility especially when you are experiencing flares. Your dietitian may also recommend an anti-inflammatory diet, which contains many omega-3 fatty acids to help with your symptoms.
When to See a Doctor
Rheumatoid arthritis may cause additional symptoms and other possible health complication such as carpal tunnel syndrome and inflammation in the lungs or eyes. It is important to see a doctor when you start experiencing symptoms such as swelling in the joints, stiffness, and persistent discomfort. Early treatment can help reduce the health effects of rheumatoid arthritis before your symptoms get worse.
The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis vary from one person to another and can range from mild to severe. Although these symptoms may stop for a while, they tend to get worse over time. It is important to talk to your doctor if you experience any symptoms related to rheumatoid arthritis since early treatment prevents serious damage to the joints.