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Recognizing the Signs of Rheumatoid Arthritis

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Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, multi system, and inflammatory autoimmune disorder that attacks the joints. It is a very painful condition that can lead to loss of mobility to the pain and joint devastation. Rheumatoid arthritis is systemic and will also affect different tissues through the body, skin, blood vessels, heart, lungs and muscles. This disease affects anyone between the ages of 20 and 40 and can start any time. A family history is important to the risk, and it is four times more common in smokers than non-smokers.

Arthritis

Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

The symptoms will separate rheumatoid arthritis from other types of arthritis because of the inflammation and soft tissue swelling of many joints at the same time: this is known as polyarthritis. The joints are usually affected asymmetrically and then will go on to the symmetrical part as the disease goes on. It is not like the other forms of arthritis like osteoarthritis because the pain will move with the use of the joints that are affected.

Arthritis Diagram

Types of Deformities

As the disease goes on, the inflammatory activity will lead to the erosion and destruction of the joints that will impair their range of movement and lead to some deformity. The fingers and the bones will deviate to the outside and towards the small finger and take on unnatural shapes. Having deformities in patients that are dealing with rheumatoid arthritis will include the Boutonnière deformity, the swan neck deformity, and the “Z-thumb” deformity.

Because rheumatoid arthritis is a multi system disease, other disease and conditions may form as a result. Many people that have rheumatoid arthritis will also have anemia.  Anemia is a problem of the red blood cells because there are not enough of them and or the hemoglobin and this will cause the lower ability of oxygen to be taken to the tissues.  It is a chronic disease, and many will suffer from it and splenomegaly or the enlarging of the spleen. Felty’s syndrome and Sjogren’s syndrome, which is an autoimmune disorder in which the cells attack and ruin the exocrine glands and produce salvia and tears. Fibrosis may occur in the lungs at any time or as a result of different treatments.

Arthritis Diagnosis

Diagnosing Rheumatoid Arthritis

There are several criteria needed for diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis. Having stiffness in the morning that goes on for longer than one hour is an example as is the arthritis and soft tissue swelling of more than three out of 14 joints or in the joint groups. Arthritis of hand joints like symmetric arthritis, subcutaneous nodules in specific places, a rheumatoid factor at a level above the 95th place and radiological changes that are suggested of joint erosion and are part of the criteria. There are at least four of these things hat have to be met in order to establish a diagnosis.

Finding the Right Treatment

The treatments for rheumatoid arthritis are going to be placed in disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs or (DMARDS), anti-inflammatory agents and analgesics.  DMARDS is known to start durable remissions and delay the disease process, prevent bone and joint damage as well. Anti-inflammatory agents and analgesics can help to improve pain and stiffness but do not stop any damage or slow down the disease in any way.

 

 

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