Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic disease characterized by painful, swollen, inflamed joints. It can occur at any time from infancy on, affecting not only particular joints and muscles, but in extreme cases, vital organs as well.
It most commonly occurs between the ages of 20 and 35, with women three times as vulnerable as men until the age of 50, when the difference narrows.
Of the 6.5 million americans affected, about one-third are free of symptoms for long periods of time; of the children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, two-thirds recover completely by adulthood.
No one knows exactly why rheumatoid arthritis occurs or how to prevent it. However, the disease is most likely to occur in genetically susceptible people when some factor disturbs their immune system.
an increasing number of researchers believe that this factor may be a virus, with particular emphasis focused on the Epstein-Barr virus, a herpes-like organism that is commonly associated with infectious mononucleosis.
Thus, while osteoarthritis is a wear-and-tear disease essentially restricted to the weight-bearing joints, rheumatoid arthritis is best described as an autoimmune disease, which means the body attacks its own tissues.
The result is not only stiffness and pain in specific areas, but general malaise and fatigue as well as fever and weight loss.
Classic Rheumatoid Arthritis
While there may be differences of opinion about what triggers the onset of rheumatoid arthritis (some specialists think it begins as part of another severe illness; some associate it with unusual emotional stress; still others point to infectious agents), there is general agreement about what happens once the autoimmune system goes awry.
Joints are normally lubricated by a secretion from the membrane that forms their lining. This lining is called the synovial membrane.
In rheumatoid arthritis, synovial tissue becomes inflamed, leading to an abnormally rapid proliferation of the synovial cells, crowding their way into the joint itself. The inflamed synovial tissue eventually eats into the cartilage and may even begin to erode the bone.
The disease typically affects the joints of the hands and feet, often on both sides, but it may also be situated in the elbows, shoulders or hips.
Damage may extend into related ligaments and tendons, causing nearby muscles to go into painful spasms as they begin to waste away through disuse. If the disease progresses untreated and the tissue damage is unchecked, the affected joints may become misshapen and lose function.
The Course Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis progresses in three stages. In the first stage, the swelling of the synovial bags causing pain, heat and swelling around the joints. The second stage is the rapid cell division that leads to compaction of the synovial membrane.
In the third stage, the inflamed cells release an enzyme that attacks the bones and cartilage, which often leads to deformation of the affected joints, increasing pain and loss of motor functions.
Typically, the disease progresses slowly at first, with the gradual deployment of clinical symptoms for several months or years, much less – subacute or acute. In about 2 / 3 of cases, fever occurs, and the rest – a mono-or oligoarticular form, and articular syndrome often have no clinical specificity, which greatly complicates the differential diagnosis.
The articular syndrome is characterized by morning stiffness for more than 30 minutes and similar expressions in the second half of the night – symptoms of “stiff gloves”, “corset”; ongoing spontaneous pain in the joints, increasing during active movements.
The disappearance of the stiffness depends on the activity of the process: the more activity, the greater the duration of restraint. For the joint syndrome in rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by monotony, the duration, preservation of residual effects after treatment.
There may be prodromal clinical symptoms (mild transient pain, pain relationship with meteorological conditions, autonomic dysfunction). Distinguish “joint damage” and “joints exception.” Rheumatoid arthritis is often combined with other joint diseases – osteoarthritis, rheumatism, systemic connective tissue diseases.
Allocate The Following Options For The Clinical Course of Rheumatoid Arthritis:
Mono-or oligoarthritis, mainly affecting the large joints, most often the knee. Severe disease onset and reversibility of all manifestations during 1-1,5 months (arthralgias are migratory in nature, radiographic changes are absent, anti-inflammatory drugs offer relatively positive effect in the latter there are all the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis).
Diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (Ra) – For a long time there was no specific test that would unambiguously confirm the presence of the disease.
Currently, diagnosis of disease based on biochemical analysis of blood, changes in the joints are visible on x-rays, and the use of basic clinical markers, but also in conjunction with the general clinical manifestations – fever, malaise, and weight loss
In the analysis of blood examined ESR, rheumatoid factor, platelet count, etc. The most advanced analysis is the titer of antibodies to cyclic citrulline-containing peptides – aCCP, anti-CCP, anti-CCP. The specificity of this indicator is 90%, while it is present in 79% of sera from patients with Ra.
Diagnostically important clinical features are the lack of discoloration of the skin over the inflamed joints, the development of tenosynovitis flexors or extensors of the fingers and the formation of amyotrophy, typical strains of brushes, so-called “rheumatoid wrist.
The Criteria For Poor Prognosis are:
- Early damage to large joints and the appearance of rheumatoid nodules
- swollen lymph nodes
- involvement of new joints in the subsequent exacerbation;
- systemic disease;
- persistent disease activity with no remission for over a year;
- persistent increase in the ESR;
- early appearance (within the first year) and high titers of rheumatoid factor
- early (up to four months), radiographic changes in the affected joints – a rapid progression of destructive changes;
- Detection of antinuclear antibodies and LE-cells
- 10. Carrier antigens HLa-DR4
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis can begin at any joint, but most often starts from small joints in the fingers, hands, and wrists. Typically, joint damage is symmetric, for example, if the sore joint on his right hand, then ill be the same joint on the left. The more joints afflicted the more advanced stages of the disease.
Other common Symptoms include:
- Morning stiffness. Generally, the longer the constraint, the disease activity.
- Flu-like symptoms, including low heat.
- Pain during prolonged sitting
- Outbreaks of disease activity are accompanied by remission.
- Muscle pain
- Loss of appetite, depression, weight loss, anemia, cold and/or sweaty palms and feet
- Violation of glands near the eyes and mouth, causing insufficient production of tears and saliva.
Treatment of Rheumatoid arthritis
although there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, most cases can be managed through treatment aimed at relieving symptoms and preserving joint function. Indeed, prompt treatment is critical in halting the irreversible tissue damage that may result from neglect.
Because therapy may combine different regimens and particular kinds of drugs, professional supervision and the cooperation of the patient are essential elements in controlling the disease.
a number of treatments are available, and the regimen for a particular patient must be tailored to his or her individual needs. an anti-inflammatory drug, which may be large doses of aspirin or one of the newer non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, is usually prescribed to ease pain and control the inflammation.
In cases where the joints have been severely damaged, other drugs, such as gold salts, may be prescribed to stop the destruction of the cartilage and synovial membrane caused by the advanced inflammatory disease.
Injections of steroids directly into the joints also may be recommended for short-term treatment of the inflammation In some patients, combinations of therapies may be needed; but in any instance, close supervision of treatment by a doctor is usually required to minimize effects of the disease.
a common-sense approach to living with the disease is also an important factor in controlling rheumatoid arthritis. This may call for an adjustment of daily routines to include naps and rest periods during the day.
Physiotherapy usually includes special exercises to retain joint function and application of hot compresses. Splinting of affected joints, particularly the fingers, may also be considered advisable.
Where weight loss has contributed to general debility, a special diet may be initiated. Only in the most advanced and immobilizing cases is orthopedic surgery considered for the replacement of diseased joints.
The 14 amazing Home Remedies For Rheumatoid Arthritis
Regular exercise is one of the first steps you need to take to fight rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. Exercise will help reduce fatigue, strengthen muscles and increase the range of motion.
Plus, it will reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis and help fight depression, which can plague anyone coping with Ra.
Three Types Of Exercise are Very Helpful:
- Range-of-motion exercises should be done for at least 30 minutes daily.
- Strengthening exercises should be done 2 or 3 times a week.
- Endurance (cardio or aerobic) exercises should be done for at least 30 minutes, 3 or 4 times a week.
- If needed, consult an expert about how to start an exercise program and which types of exercises to do and avoid.
2. Hot and Cold Compresses
alternating hot and cold compresses can also help deal with symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. While a hot compress will reduce pain by relaxing sore muscles and joints, a cold compress will dull the pain and reduce joint swelling and inflammation.
- Wrap a hot water bag in a towel for the hot compress.
- Wrap some ice cubes in a thin towel for the cold compress.
- Place the hot compress on the affected area for about 3 minutes.
- Remove it and immediately put the cold compress in its place for about 1 minute.
- Repeat the process for 15 to 20 minutes a few times daily until you get relief.
- Take up to 2.6 grams of fish oil (with at least 30% EPa/ DHa) twice daily.
- also include cold water fish, such as tuna and salmon, in your diet.
- Bring 1 quart of water to a boil. add 1 tablespoon of turmeric powder and boil it for another 10 minutes. allow it to cool and drink it once or twice daily.
- alternatively, you can take 500 to 1,000 mg turmeric capsules 3 times per day. Consult your doctor first.
- also, add turmeric powder in your daily cooking for additional benefits.
- add 1 tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and 1 teaspoon of honey to 1/2 cup of warm water. Drink it once daily.
- You can also apply some apple cider vinegar to the affected area. Next, massage warm castor oil onto the affected area. Finally, wrap the area with a cotton cloth and cover it with plastic. Do this daily before going to bed.
- Eat 1 to 2 raw garlic cloves daily.
- You can also take garlic capsules. For correct dosage, consult your doctor.
- add 2 cups of Epsom salt to a bathtub of warm water.
- Soak in this warm bath for 30 minutes.
- Do this up to 3 times each week.
- Rub some ginger oil on the affected area. Then expose the area to the sun for 5 to 10 minutes to generate warmth and heat. Do this on regular basis.
- Chew some fresh ginger slices daily.
- also, add ginger to your foods or drink 2 to 3 cups of ginger tea daily.
- add 10 grams of camphor to 1 cup of mustard oil and heat it until the camphor dissolves completely. allow the oil to cool and then use it to massage the affected area with gentle strokes.
- You can also add a few drops of lavender oil to some warm olive oil and use it to massage the affected area with gentle strokes.
- You can massage the affected area 2 or 3 times a day for a few minutes each time.
You can also use these compresses separately.
Note: avoid hot compresses if the affected area is red, hot and irritated. Do not use cold therapy if you have circulatory problems.
3. Fish Oil
Several studies show that fish oil also helps reduce joint pain and stiffness due to Ra. Fish oil has omega-3 fatty acids – EPa and DHa – that have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body and can help reduce pain. also, fish oil helps protect against heart disease, which people with Ra have a higher risk of developing.
Note: Consult your doctor before taking fish oil supplements as they may interfere with certain medications.
To help fight Ra symptoms, you can use turmeric. a study done in 2012 shows that curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, contains potent anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic properties that work better than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSaIDs).
Turmeric can prevent joint inflammation by blocking certain enzymes and cytokines that cause inflammation.
Note: avoid high doses of turmeric as it can act as a blood thinner and cause stomach upset.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar
apple cider vinegar is also very effective in providing relief from many of the symptoms of Ra. Being rich in minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus, it helps reduce pain and inflammation.
Due to its strong anti-inflammatory properties, garlic is also recommended for treating Ra. Garlic inhibits the production of pro-inflammatory substances known as cytokines, which helps reduce pain and swelling.
also, it inhibits the formation of free radicals that can cause joint damage and promotes a healthy immune system. For rheumatoid arthritis patients, raw and fresh garlic is recommended.
7. Epsom Salt
Epsom salt is also considered a good remedy to ease rheumatoid arthritis pain and swelling. Being a good source of magnesium, Epsom salt regulates the pH levels in the body. This, in turn, reduces the stiffness, inflammation, and pain in the joints. also, it helps in bone mineralization.
In ayurvedic as well as naturopathy, ginger has been used for ages to treat inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. Gingerol, a compound in ginger, has natural anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling.
When done properly, massage can relax stiff muscles and provide relief from pain due to rheumatoid arthritis. Massage will stimulate blood circulation, which is important to alleviate discomfort and inflammation.
Note: avoid massage if your joints and muscles feel too tender.
10. Evening Primrose Oil
Evening primrose oil, a kind of plant oil, can also help reduce pain and morning stiffness. This plant oil contains an essential fatty acid called gamma-linolenic acid that helps reduce the intensity of several symptoms.
Take 540 mg to 2.8 g in divided doses daily. Consult your doctor for the correct dosage as this supplement can interfere with certain medications.
11. Anti-inflammatory Diet
Aanti-inflammatory diet helps in reducing inflammation in the joints. Some of the anti-inflammatory diet include ginger tea and turmeric.
12. Rest and Relaxation
Resting helps in protecting the injured area. It also helps in reducing the soreness that can be caused by activities. When resting you can place a pillow under the affected knee for comfort.
13.Take a Warm Bath Or Shower
A warm bath or shower can help in reducing stiffness and inflammation. You can take the bath in the morning and in the evening before going to sleep.
14.Stretch It Out
Stretching the affected knee joints can help in reducing stiffness. Stretching the joints should be gentle so as to avoid injuries
While rheumatoid arthritis is more severe than osteoarthritis, it is considerably rarer and usually can be successfully controlled when symptoms are brought to the doctor’s attention promptly.
It may take some time and patience to arrive at the right medication in the proper dosage, but the combination of drugs, exercise, rest and good nutrition can usually reduce symptoms to the point where they do not interfere with most normal activities.
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