By Apollo Clinic, Bora Service, Guwahati, Multi Speciality
Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disorder which causes abnormal swelling of the body joints due to a sudden attack to the joints by the immune system of the body. This disorder is fairly common in the body parts that are more frequently used such as the knees, fingers, shoulders, wrists, elbows and the hips. Although rare, this disorder can also affect the ligaments or the tendons along with kidney, lungs, eyes or the heart.
This disorder tends to be chronic. Although the exact cause of the disease is still unknown, the loss of immunity generally leads to the disorder. Thus people who are obese, regular smokers, or who have had a family history of this condition are the most vulnerable to this disorder.
Causes of rheumatoid arthritis –
1. Rheumatoid arthritis can happen when your immune system starts attacking the synovium; which is the lining of the membrane that encloses the joints.
2. Some studies also suggest that environmental factors such as certain bacteria and viruses along with genetic factors can induce rheumatoid arthritis.
Complications associated to arthritis –
1. Osteoporosis – The condition itself along with the medication used to treat rheumatoid arthritis can expose you to the threat of developing osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disorder characterized by weakening of your bones.
2. Rheumatoid nodules – These are basically formation of tissues which can occur in pressure points such as the elbows and sometimes even in the lungs.
3. Dry eyes and mouth – Most of the times, people who suffer from this condition develop Jorgen’s syndrome, a disorder that significantly reduces the amount of moisture in the mouth and eyes.
4. Heart problems – Rheumatoid arthritis can trigger hardening or blockage of the arteries in the heart. It also causes inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart.
5. Lung disease – People who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis have a high risk of scarring as well as inflammation of the tissues present in the lungs. Scarring and inflammation of the lung tissue can lead to breathing disorders such as shortness or difficulty in breathing.
6. Lymphoma – Rheumatoid arthritis also increases the threat of developing lymphoma which is a group of cancers that occur in the lymph system.
The symptoms of Rheumatoid arthritis are:
- Severe pain in the joints.
- Severe pain coupled with high fever.
- Stiffening and inflammation of the joints, resulting in intense pain.
- Exhaustion, fatigue and sudden weight loss.
- The pain gets aggravated in cold weather conditions.
If rheumatoid arthritis is not treated immediately after diagnosis, it might cause further complications in the future such as lymphatic blood cancers, osteoporosis (a medical condition resulting in brittle and weak bones), blockage of the arteries and dry mouth syndrome (Xerostomia).
The treatment of rheumatoid arthritis includes:
- Prescribed dosage of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen and Naproxen, anti-rheumatoid drugs such as Methotrexate and steroidal drugs such as Prednisone help in reducing inflammation and pain. The dosage depends on the intensity of the condition.
- Performing regular exercises which will help you retain flexibility of the joints and subsequently cure rheumatoid arthritis.
- In extreme cases, the doctor might suggest surgeries such as:
- Synovectomy: A surgery that removes the damaged portion of the joint
- Joint fusion: This option will realign the joint and reduce the pain