Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune inflammatory disease that mainly affects joints in the hands and feet but can affect other joints such as the hips and knees . An autoimmune disease is a disease where your immune system attacks its own body. In Rheumatoid arthritis the immune system attacks the synovium of the joints and can destroy the cartilage and the bone. . Inflammation may become visible on the joints of the hands and feet. Rheumatoid Arthritis may also affect other organs like the heart and kidneys.
When people think rheumatoid arthritis you automatically think older people, but it occurs in people of all ages. Women are up to three times more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than men . There is no known cause for rheumatoid arthritis, but there some risks factors that may contribute. People with this condition see a specialist called a rheumatologist.
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include fatigue, swelling, stiffness in the joints . Sometimes it can be very painful to do simple tasks such as holding a toothbrush or just simply getting out of bed. People with RA suffer from fatigue and tiredness. Knowing somebody very close to me struggle with this disease is very eye opening. We take a lot of things for granted something as simple as tying your shoes can be a challenge for a person with RA.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis. Therefore, it is best to diagnose and start treatment an early stage to be able to stop the progression of the disease. The goal is to have the disease go into remission. If not treated the hands and feet may become deformed. This may limit the ability to live a normal life as we know it.
Drugs used to treat RA include biological therapies, steroids, and combinations of biological drugs . Biologics is usually the treatment of choice. Older drugs such as methotrexate may cause more side effects. At times biologics must be paired up with older drugs for them to work. The goal of biologics is to stop inflammation. Biologics reduce the number of white cells into the rheumatoid joints . Biologics are usually injected or are given through an IV. Biologics may take a few weeks, or it may take days for a person to feel the change. Some people may even go into remission using biologic therapies. When a person goes into remission it means that they do not have flares. Flares usually consist of the joints becoming swollen and stiff. People may have trouble performing daily activities. People can limp when they walk, they can have trouble closing or grasping their hands. Flares can last anywhere from days to weeks. Unfortunately, biologics do not work on everybody. For Some people it may take years to find the right drugs. Like all drugs biologics may cause side effects. The immune system becomes compromised and the person is more prone to infections.
Biologic drugs are generally very expensive. Therefore, if somebody does not have health insurance or the funds to pay for it, they must find other methods that may not be as effective to treat their condition . If the drugs being used to treat RA are not working and there has been joint damage surgery may be needed to alleviate pain and have better movement.
People who have RA must adjust their lifestyles because now they may have physical limitations. Some people may even adjust their diets to foods that are high in antioxidants because they may reduce inflammation . Keeping a healthy weight is also very important to keep inflammation down. Some people try to find natural remedies to ease pain and inflammation. Exercise is very important to keep the joints from feeling stiff. It is also very easy for somebody who has RA to fall into depression. Being diagnosed with a chronic illness is lifechanging. For people who have this disease there are support groups that they can join. There are social media support groups, forums, blogs.
In conclusion Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic, debilitating autoimmune disease. If not treated on time it may cause deformation on the hands and feet. There is not a cure for this disease, but there are drugs that may help stop the diseases from progressing. There are also lifestyle changes that people can make to try and reduce the inflammation and pain. For people needing help on coping with the disease may look into support groups. Science is constantly evolving and hopefully one day there can be a cure for this disease.
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