What is Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease, which means that the body's immune system has become abnormal and starts to attack normal healthy tissues, in particular the synovium, a thin membrane that lines the joints. This causes pain and inflammation in the joints that eventually lead to loss of bone cartilage.
Although the joints are mainly affected, other organs like the lungs, heart, kidney and even the eyes can also be affected. Women are more likely to get this disease than men.
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can start form the age of 40 onwards although it can affect people of any age. There is pain and swelling in the affected joins. The affected area may feel warm and tender to the touch.
Joints affected by rheumatoid arthritis are mostly the knee, feet, hand and wrist. Joints are often stiff early in the morning and this stiffness usually lasts for more than an hour. Stiffness is also felt after a period of joint inactivity. Often, the small joints of the hands and feet are affected. Over time, these joints may get deformed.
Some patients may also experience inflammation in the eye tissues, leading to dry eyes which may cause further complications. Lung tissues may also get inflamed resulting in chest pain, shortness of breath and coughing. Other complications may include increased risk of hear attack and anemia, a condition in which there is an inadequate number of red blood cells in the blood.
What Causes Rheumatoid Arthritis
The causes of rheumatoid arthritis are not fully known. Doctors do not fully understand why the body's immune system becomes erratic. One contributing cause seems to be genetics (hereditary). In some families, some members of the same family suffer from the condition.
Another cause seem to be virus infection which goes to explain that even young people develop the disease too (juvenile rheumatoid arthritis). Hormones seem to be another factor since women are more likely than men to develop the disease. Environmental cause like exposure to certain chemicals may be another factor.
An interesting factor brought forward is that rheumatoid arthritis can be caused by food allergy. Certain foods that a person has been eating through the years on a regular basis may lead to this condition. One such food suspected to be a likely cause is milk or dairy products.
Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Treatment would generally be medications to relieve arthritis pain and reduce the joint inflammation. Physical therapy also helps to restore flexibility in joint movements. Patients are advised to maintain movements of the joints to prevent joints from getting weak and stiff.
Rheumatoid Arthritis can cause severe disability to the extend that simple actions such as opening door knobs and bottles can become difficult. Patients are advised to seek early diagnosis and treatment to prevent the disease from getting worse and prevent the deformity of joints.
“Glucosamine produced in the body provides natural building blocks for growth, repair and maintenance of cartilage. Like chondroitin, glucosamine may lubricate joints, help cartilage retain water and prevent its breakdown. Trial results are mixed, but overall, glucosamine appears to reduce pain and improve function in OA. Research also suggests glucosamine may slow joint damage.”