Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease that’s characterized by inflammation and deformities of the joints and the surrounding tissue.
This type of arthritis is very common among adults who are over 60, although there are special cases when it develops at earlier stages.
It often affects areas such as the knees and hands. However, it can also affect other parts of the body, including some muscles and tissues.
Although there is no definite cause that explains its occurrence, rheumatoid arthritis has been linked to several causes. These include hereditary factors, wear and tear on the joints over time, and certain injuries.
The main symptom is pain that varies in intensity. This pain is almost always accompanied by inflammation, feelings of heaviness, and difficulty carrying out normal movements.
Some patients feel better with time, while others have to seek medical treatment when conditions worsen.
This is why it’s important that everyone is aware of the disease, including its risk factors, development, and types of treatment.
Let’s take a look at 5 important facts about this disease.
1. It affects several jointsRheumatoid arthritis is a disease that typically affects several different joints, especially in the hands and knees.
Very rarely does it occur in a single joint because it develops gradually over time and extends to other parts of the body.
Some patients with arthritis always feel it on one side, however, and this can facilitate their control of the pain.
There are even cases in which pain killers and anti-inflammatory drugs, as well as alternative therapies, are enough to provide relief.
2. Anyone can develop it
In general, the continuous pain in the joints associated with rheumatoid arthritis is related to wear and tear that occurs with age.
This disease isn’t just unique to old age, however. It can also develop in children or young adults.
While it’s true that most cases appear in older adults, the possibility of suffering could occur much earlier, especially if you have a family history of the disease or any injuries.
3. It continues to confound the medical communityAlthough rheumatoid arthritis is relatively common, its development continues to confound the medical and scientific communities around the world.
This is because no one knows what the exact cause could be as there are many factors associated with joint wear and tear.
What is clear to experts is that the condition arises when the body’s immune system starts to attack its own tissues, which is the case around the joints.
It’s still unclear what triggers the body to initiate this reaction, though.
That said, some of the risk factors include:
- Genetic predisposition
- Hormonal imbalances
- Consumption of alcohol and tobacco
- Lesions on muscle, joint, and bone tissues
- Excessive physical activity
- Leading a sedentary lifestyle
4. The diagnosis is complex
Many diseases are easy to diagnose because samples of bodily fluids can provide hard evidence.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a special case, however. Its detection is very difficult because of the way that symptoms show up.
In the initial stages, pain can be confused with other minor health problems and people may even overlook at it while assuming that it’s related to fatigue.
According to data from the Mayo Clinic, there is no single test that can be used to identify this disorder.
In addition to that, and because the cases tend to appear gradually, it can take several years to obtain an accurate diagnosis.
Symptoms, family history, and X-ray analysis are some of the methods that are used to identify it.
5. There are several different types of treatmentAlthough the disease doesn’t have a definitive cure, there are many methods that can help overcome and control the severity of your symptoms.
Treatments are designed to control inflammation and pain while allowing patients to lead a normal lifestyle.
- First of all, it’s recommended to educate the patient through self-help programs and support groups, because this diagnosis can have a strong impact on their emotional state.
- Pain killers and anti-inflammatory drugs are then prescribed to control pain and alleviate stiffness.
- In addition to this, it’s best to attend some physical therapy sessions to strengthen and protect the surrounding tissues in affected joints.
There are also plenty of natural products that may serve as supplements to help alleviate rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
Do you suspect that you have this disease? At the first warning sign, it’s best to receive medical attention and be thoroughly evaluated.
In the event that you receive a positive diagnosis, you’ll need to modify your daily habits to keep it from affecting your quality of life.