Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disorder that can affect more than just your joints.In fact, RA is a systemic disease, meaning it can affect your whole body. If left untreated, RA can cause serious damage to your heart, lungs, and muscles. It’s important to understand the causes and symptoms of RA so that you can get the treatment you need to manage the disease.
What Causes RA?
The exact cause of RA is unknown, but it is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. What we do know is that RA is an autoimmune disease, which means that your immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. In the case of RA, the healthy tissue is the cartilage in your joints. The inflammation caused by the attack on the cartilage leads to pain, stiffness, and swelling in the affected joints.
RA is a chronic disease, which means that it is long-lasting and can flare up at any time. There is no cure for RA, but there are treatments available that can help lessen the symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Common Symptoms of RA
The most common symptom of RA is joint pain and stiffness. This can be worse in the morning or after periods of inactivity. Other common symptoms include:
Loss of range of motion in joints
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor so that you can get a diagnosis and begin treatment as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to managing RA and preventing further damage to your joints.
How is RA diagnosed? There is no one test that can definitively diagnose RA. Instead, doctors will typically use a combination of medical history, physical examination, laboratory tests, and imaging studies to reach a diagnosis. How is RA treated?
There is no conventional medical cure for RA, however, there are medications that can help reduce symptoms and decrease the disease’s course. Commonly used treatments include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), biologic agents, corticosteroids, and surgery. It’s important to work with your doctor to find the treatment plan that works best for you.
Treatment Options for Rheumatoid Arthritis
There is no cure for RA, but there are treatments available that can help relieve symptoms and improve joint function.
The most common treatments for RA include:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
NSAIDs can help relieve pain and swelling in the joints affected by RA.
Examples of NSAIDs include:
Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
DMARDs work by suppressing the immune system to prevent it from attacking healthy joint tissue. DMARDs can slow or stop the progression of joint damage caused by RA.
Examples of DMARDs include:
TNF inhibitors such as adalimumab (Humira)
Biologic agents are a newer type of DMARD that work by targeting specific proteins involved in the immune response that leads to inflammation in people with RA . Biologic agents can be used alone or in combination with other DMARDs or NSAIDs .
Examples of biologic agents include:
Golimumab(Simponi Aria/Simponi )
Steroids are drugs that reduce inflammation throughout the body. Prednisone is a common steroid that helps relieve symptoms but does not slow or stop joint damage. Steroids can be given orally as pills or injected directly into an inflamed joint.
Diet and Rheumatoid Arthritis
One choice that people living with RA are making to better support their health is to make dietary adjustments. Consuming particular foods may, in conjunction with conventional medical treatments such as over-the-counter painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs, and immune-suppressing therapies, assist you in managing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
RA is a serious, chronic disease that can affect every part of your body if left untreated. If you think you may have RA, it’s important to see your doctor so that you can get a diagnosis and begin treatment as soon as possible.
With early diagnosis and treatment, you can manage your symptoms and prevent further damage to your joints.