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What is Rheumatoid arthritis?


Have you ever seen swelling and deformities over the finger joints? Have you heard of rheumatoid arthritis?

 

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic systematic autoimmune disease that primarily affects smaller joints, progressing to larger joints, and eventually the skin, eyes, and other organs. The onset of rheumatoid arthritis is usually from age 35 to 60. The prevalence rate is higher in females and cigarette smoking. The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include morning stiffness, tenderness, swelling over affected joints which can last for hours, fatigue, fever, and weight loss.

 

Some might ask about the difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is caused by wear and tear. It does not affect the lungs or heart as well. Whereas, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition and patients tend to suffer from persistent morning stiffness for at least an hour. The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is yet to be found but experts believe something triggered the disorder of the immune system and attacks the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is diagnosed by multiple things, including x-rays, blood tests, location, symmetry, and condition of the joints. Early diagnosis is critical to prevent serious damage.

 

While there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, the treatment aims to reduce inflammation and pain, prevent joint deformity, and maximize joint function. NSAIDs and Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs) are the medications commonly used for rheumatoid arthritis. However, if the joint is severely damaged, surgery might be required. When the inflammation eases, regular physiotherapy sessions can help maintain joint mobility and strengthen the muscles around the joint.

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