What is rheumatoid arthritis and how should it be treated?



RA or Rheumatoid Arthritis is a systemic autoimmune disease that can affect organs such as eyes, lungs, heart as well as synovial (mobility) joints. The most common damage is the small joints of the hands and feet, but it can also affect the knee, hip, and shoulder joints. Several joints can be affected simultaneously, usually symmetrically (on both sides of the body), such as both hands. RA causes the joint lining to become inflamed and swollen, which eventually leads to destruction of the joint surface and severe tenderness and pain. Increased inflammation in people with rheumatoid arthritis increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and heart failure. There is no definitive treatment for this painful disease. But it is possible to help treat rheumatoid arthritis and reduce joint pain by exercising properly and under the supervision of a doctor, as well as following a proper diet. In the following, we will comprehensively examine the causes of this disease and the ways to deal with it. Table of Contents (Click) What is Rheumatoid Arthritis? Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder in the body’s immune system that causes inflammation of the joints. In this disease, the body tissue is mistakenly attacked by the immune system. Rheumatoid arthritis can even affect the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, blood, and nerves. As mentioned, rheumatoid is a chronic disorder, meaning that although it may go away for periods, it may get worse over time or never go away. If you want to learn about this painful chronic disease and prevent it or if you are looking for recovery, don’t miss this article. Signs or symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are joint inflammation with pain, burning and swelling. This inflammation is usually symmetrical and occurs on both sides of the body at the same time (such as hands, feet, wrists). Other symptoms of this disorder include joint stiffness, especially in the mornings or after a period of inactivity. Persistent fatigue and low-grade fever are other symptoms that may worsen over the course of a few years, but remain the same in some. If you ignore the treatment of this disease, it will gradually affect different parts of the body: the impact of arthritis on the joints joint inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis can destroy cartilage and bone and cause changes in the shape of the joints. As the disorder progresses, it destroys most of the joints and that part of the body loses a lot of its functionality. Joint inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis causes the loss of cartilage and bone and changes the shape of the joints. The impact of rheumatoid arthritis on the body Rheumatoid arthritis can affect other parts of the body besides the joints. These organs are: Rheumatoid nodules: they are hard lumps that occur under the skin and internal organs of the body. Sjögren’s syndrome: inflammation and damage to the glands of the eyes and mouth Pleuritis: inflammation of the lung lining Pericarditis: inflammation of the lining around the heart Anemia: reduction of red blood cells Disrupt the tissues. Who gets rheumatoid arthritis? Few people suffer from this disorder. For example, in America, it includes 1% of the country’s population. Rheumatoid usually manifests itself at the age of 30-60 years, but younger or older people may also suffer from it. This disorder occurs two to three times more in women than in men. Other things that increase the risk of this disorder are smoking or the presence of this disorder in the family. Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis is a very rare form of this disorder. Like adult rheumatoid arthritis, this disorder also causes joint inflammation, stiffness and damage. It can also cause problems in adolescent development. Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is also known as idiopathic arthritis, which means idiopathic is unknown. Rheumatoid arthritis and pregnancy Surprisingly, rheumatoid arthritis improves up to 80% during pregnancy, and after delivery, it will probably return to normal. How and why this happens is not yet clear. Changes in medications may be necessary before and during pregnancy. A strange thing during pregnancy is that rheumatoid arthritis improves up to 80%. Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis Immune cells’ job is to protect the body from foreign invaders. Now, what causes them to attack healthy joints and tissues is not known. Researchers believe that a combination of genetics and environmental factors may play a role in the occurrence of this disorder. It is possible that the genetic predisposition in some people who have been infected with a certain bacteria or virus can cause such a disorder. But to date, no specific infection has been identified. Diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis is difficult because the symptoms of this disorder come and go and the initial signs and symptoms are similar to many other diseases. If you have these symptoms, your doctor may recommend more tests: morning dryness in the joints swelling or fluid accumulation around several joints at the same time swelling in the wrists, hands and fingers of some joints symmetrically on both sides of the body Lumps under the skin (rheumatoid nodule) Blood test If you suspect this disorder, your doctor will order a blood test to check the causes of inflammation in the body. Other conventional tests for diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis include (RF) and (anti-CCP) tests. People with rheumatoid arthritis often have a high erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR, also known as sed rate), which may indicate an inflammatory process in the body. Photography X-ray photography is one of the ways to diagnose arthritis and with it, you can also measure the progress of this disease. MRI or ultrasound can also help to diagnose this disorder as well as to determine the amount of damage it has caused to the joints. One of the ways to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis is X-ray imaging. Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis There is no known cure for rheumatoid arthritis. The aim of existing treatments is to reduce inflammation and joint pain and prevent damage to them, as well as to maximize joint efficiency. It is better to start treatment as soon as possible. Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis includes a combination of medications and exercise to strengthen the muscles that support the joints. Treatment may include surgery. This process is designed according to the age, affected joints and the progress of the disease. During a physical exam, your doctor will check your joints for swelling, redness, and warmth. He may also check your reflexes and muscle strength. Your doctor may ask some of the following questions: When did your symptoms start? Have your symptoms changed over time? Which joints are involved? Does any activity make your symptoms better or worse? Do your symptoms interfere with daily activities? Rheumatoid Arthritis Medications Medications used for rheumatoid arthritis include disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), which slow the progression of the disease. These types of drugs include biologics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), steroids, and DMARDs. The types of medications your doctor recommends will depend on the severity of your symptoms and how long you’ve had rheumatoid arthritis: NSAIDs Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Over-the-counter NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, etc.) and naproxen sodium (Aleve). Stronger NSAIDs are available by prescription. Side effects may include stomach irritation, heart problems, and kidney damage. One of the side effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can be heart problems. Steroids Corticosteroid drugs, such as prednisone, reduce inflammation and joint pain and damage. Side effects may include thinning bones, weight gain, and diabetes. Doctors often prescribe a corticosteroid for quick relief of symptoms, with the goal of gradually tapering off the medication. Conventional DMARDs These drugs can slow the progression of rheumatoid arthritis and save joints and other tissues from permanent damage. Common DMARDs include methotrexate (Trexall, Otrexup, etc.), leflunomide (Arava), hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), and sulfasalazine (Azulfidine). Side effects vary but may include liver damage and severe lung infection. Biologic DMARDs are usually more effective when paired with a conventional DMARD such as methotrexate. This type of medicine also increases the risk of infection. Targeted synthetic DMARDs Baricitinib (Olumiant), tofacitinib (Xeljanz), and apadacitinib (Rinvoq) may be used if conventional DMARDs and biologics have not been effective. Higher doses of tofacitinib can increase the risk of blood clots in the lungs, serious heart-related events, and cancer. Higher doses of some medications to treat arthritis can increase the risk of blood clots in the lungs. Biologic response modifiers This newer class of DMARDs, also known as biologic response modifiers, includes abatacept (Orencia), adalimumab (Humira), anakinera (Kinnert), certolizumab (Cimzia), etanercept (Enbrel), glimumab (Simponi), infliximab ( Remicade) and rituximab (rituximab). Surgery When the disease progresses and the injuries become serious and the pain becomes unbearable, some people prefer to undergo surgery to improve the pain and function of the joints. Joint replacement is one of the common surgeries in this field, and they usually replace knee and hip joints. Other types of surgery, such as arthroscopy (insertion of a tube-like instrument to see and repair abnormal tissue) and tendon reconstruction, are also suggested options. Adjunctive Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis Some patients with rheumatoid arthritis have found relief from the following: moist heat, sedatives, and acupuncture. Keep in touch with your doctor and ask him for advice. Work with your doctor to develop a plan to manage your arthritis. This will help you feel responsible for your illness. Rest when you are tired. Rheumatoid arthritis can make you prone to fatigue and muscle weakness. A short nap or rest that does not interfere with nighttime sleep may help. Communicate with others. Make your family aware of the feeling. They may be concerned about you, but they may not feel comfortable about your pain. Find a family member or friend you can talk to when you’re feeling particularly down. Also, connect with other people with rheumatoid arthritis—either through a support group in your community or online. Take time for yourself. Find time to do what you love, whether it’s writing in a journal, going for a walk, or listening to music. This can help reduce stress. Sometimes thinking about this disease and joint pain is stressful and leads to more pain. One helpful treatment for rheumatoid arthritis is to rest when you are tired. Diet for Rheumatoid Arthritis The most important feature of a diet plan is to have a balance of all nutrients. To reduce pain and treat rheumatoid arthritis, you can get help from a diet that provides both the nutrients your body needs and helps reduce joint pain. For example, based on the experience of those who had rheumatoid arthritis, a diet rich in omega-3 and fatty acids can be effective in reducing attacks. In the following, we will introduce foods that help to heal rheumatoid arthritis, as well as foods that increase inflammation that you should avoid: Food Dos and Don’ts to Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis Maintain a healthy weight. The most important relationship between diet and rheumatoid arthritis is weight. Being overweight can make some specialized drugs ineffective. If you are overweight, try to lose extra weight by combining healthy eating and regular exercise. Here are some important foods to eat or avoid in your diet: Change the type of fat in your diet. Foods that are rich in saturated fats, such as meat and butter, may increase inflammation. People with rheumatoid arthritis are at a higher risk of developing heart disease than people without the disease. The amount and type of fat you eat and use in cooking may affect your blood cholesterol levels and may also affect your levels of joint pain and inflammation. Reducing the intake of saturated fat and replacing it with a lower amount of unsaturated fat may help maintain normal blood cholesterol levels. Be careful not to consume too much salt. Consuming salt (sodium chloride) more than 6 grams per day may cause inflammation due to changes in the immune system. High salt intake can also increase the risk of high blood pressure for some people. Foods such as tomatoes, citrus fruits, white potatoes, peppers, coffee, and dairy products make symptoms worse. Fish oil, borage seed oil and cat’s claw. These oils are effective in reducing joint pain. Of course, before using any type of supplement, talk to your doctor so that it does not interfere with the main drugs you are using. Fish consumption and reducing the progression of rheumatism. According to Swedish researchers, omega-3s found in fish such as salmon or mackerel reduce the risk of developing rheumatism by 50%.

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