Rheumatoid Arthritis: Diagnosis, Information and Treatments
Disabled World: Revised/Updated: 2019/03/23
Synopsis: Information and treatment options for rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder that causes joint inflammation as well as aches and pain.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disorder that typically affects the small joints in your hands and feet. The disease may also have signs and symptoms in organs other than joints. RA can produce diffuse inflammation in the lungs, the membrane around the heart, the membranes of the lung, and whites of the eye. It can also produce nodular lesions, most common within the skin. There is no cure for RA, but there are a number of medications available to help ease symptoms, reduce inflammation, and slow the progression of the disease.
The natural history of RA varies considerably with at least three possible disease courses (3-5):
- Progressive: RA continues to increase in severity and is unremitting.
- Polycyclic: The levels of disease activity fluctuate over the course of the condition.
- Monocyclic: Have one episode which ends within 2-5 years of initial diagnosis and did not reoccur. This may result from early diagnosis and/or aggressive treatment.
Difference Between Rheumatoid arthritis and Regular Arthritis
Most regular arthritis is caused by the wearing down of the joints due to older age and overuse.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), when affecting young people it is known as Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, is an autoimmune disease.
Difference Between Rheumatoid arthritis and Rheumatism
Rheumatism or Rheumatic disorder is a non-specific term for medical problems affecting the heart, bones, joints, kidney, skin and lung. The study of, and therapeutic interventions in, such disorders is called rheumatology.
When rheumatoid arthritis strikes, then the result would be an almost permanent pain in the affected area. And if this disease is not addressed accordingly, it becomes possible that its patient would suffer from lasting joint damages and eventual loss of their mobility functions. In other words, people with rheumatoid arthritis may become disabled.
Signs and Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Pain is often a constant and daily feature of the disease. The pain may be localized to the back, neck, hip, knee or feet. The pain from arthritis occurs due to inflammation that occurs around the joint, damage to the joint from disease, daily wear and tear of joint, muscles strains caused by forceful movements against stiff, painful joints and fatigue.
It is important that rheumatoid arthritis is identified and diagnosed at the onset. If you think you have it, take a look at these signs and symptoms and compare them with yours.
1. Swelling, pain, stiffness, redness, and a warm sensation on the joints.
There are a lot of joints in the body. Following that concept, rheumatoid arthritis can possibly strike anywhere. If you feel any chronic pain on any part of your body, more particularly in the knees, neck, and shoulders, it is possible you have arthritis. Chronic pain means that the pain recurs from time to time.
There are various forms of arthritis. The pain you are feeling doesn't necessarily mean that you already have the condition. However, it would still be best to see a doctor just to be sure.
2. Thickening of the joint's lining.
Anytime that you feel the swelling in the joints had subsided but the area doesn't seem to be the same as it used to be, there is a high chance that the lining around the joints have already thickened. If you do have this condition, then you might just have rheumatoid arthritis. It should also be the time you go to a health care specialist for a more accurate diagnosis.
3. Your motor skills have gone haywire.
When the pains become too excruciating that you find yourself unable to move the way you normally would, it could be a sign of higher-stage rheumatoid arthritis. Your doctor will prescribe you the appropriate medications to help you deal with the condition.
Diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis
There are different ways to test if a person definitely has rheumatoid arthritis. Here are some of the more popular methods doctors and professional health care practitioners use to confirm its presence.
This is usually the first test you are asked to undergo because it gives an overall view of the internal body. It is not able to confirm a hundred percent if rheumatoid arthritis is present, but it helps rule out other possible ailments. X-rays are also helpful in finding out the degree of the condition and at what stage it is progressing into.
2. Latex test.
The latex test is the procedure used to specifically diagnose rheumatoid arthritis. This diagnostic process examines the blood and checks it for antibody known as the rheumatoid factor. Whenever there's an inflammation on the joints and its lining, the body reacts by secreting this type of antibody. Once the rheumatoid factor is detected in the blood, then there would be no doubt that the patient has rheumatoid arthritis.
3. Sedimentation Rate of the blood.
This is done through the extraction of a blood sample, which is left to settle for a while before examined. Finding blood that has a high sedimentation rate means the inflammation is active and growing.
These are the ways on how doctors perform diagnosis tests for rheumatoid arthritis among their patients. But it is still your responsibility to monitor your body's processes so that treating the disease becomes a lot easier. And at times, preventing the disease becomes possible even.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Facts and Statistics
- Nearly three times as many women have the disease as men.
- In women, RA most commonly begins between ages 30 and 60. In men, it often occurs later in life.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1.5 million Americans have rheumatoid arthritis.
- Although rheumatoid arthritis can occur at any age, it usually begins after age 40. The disorder is much more common in women.
- According to the Arthritis Foundation, more than 300,000 American children, even infants, have some form of what was formerly called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
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