Rheumatoid Arthritis

An Overview of Rheumatoid Arthritis

The condition of rheumatoid arthritis is a disorder that causes inflammation in joints and can also affect one’s organs.  In the long term rheumatoid arthritis causes cartilage damage and pain when breathing.  The cause of rheumatoid arthritis remains a mystery to those in medical field however it is thought that there is some genetic predisposition towards the condition.  The disorder is classified as a systemic autoimmune disease due to the body’s immune system attacking its own cells and organs.

A very small percentage of the world’s population (around 1%) has rheumatoid arthritis.  The typical age when symptoms show for the disease occur when a patient is in their 40’s or 50’s.  For some the disease can be so severe that it causes a disability in the patient to where they are unable to care for them self.  Often it can cause a contracting of the joints in the hand to where it is nearly impossible stretch out one’s fingers.  RA is so serious that it has its own type of doctor, a rheumatologist who specializes in caring for patients who suffer from the disease.   These doctors are also experts in immune system disorders.

There are numerous treatments that can be utilized for symptom suppression and pain management.  Physical and nutritional therapy can be used to increase the body’s overall health and make it more resilient to damage caused by the immune system.  In cases of extreme pain prescription painkillers are used so that the patient can accomplish everyday activities relatively pain free.  Immune system suppression drugs can also be used to counteract the damage someone’s own immune system is doing to their body.  Such drugs however leave that persons body open to infection and other complications.

The pain in joints seen with RA is actually caused by a breakdown of the lining between the joint and the bone, not the joint itself.  Rheumatoid arthritis and arthritis in general are usually associated with aching joints, however this immune system disorder can cause problems within the bodies other systems through organ damage.  There have also been instances of anemia in many of those who have RA, however it is impossible to tell (with current technology) whether the disease is being caused by RA or coincidental.  This is due to the side effects of many drugs used to address the symptoms of RA.

After a while RA spreads to other joints within the body and not necessarily one close to the joint already affected.  RA can also affect the spine to the point of immobilization, if treated early on however it is possible to avoid this reality however it is key to seek out treatment.  RA can also cause fibrosis within the lungs, it is not known however whether the disease itself causes fibrosis or if the condition is a side effect of medications used to treat the patient.  Heart problems can arise from RA and in very rare cases arthritis can move to the eyes causing dryness and severe vision problems, both of these possibilities occur when RA is an advanced state..