What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic systemic inflammatory disease. Also known as RA, Rheumatoid arthritis aggressively attacks, and often times destroy the articular cartilage and the joints. However, Rheumatoid arthritis can also affect many different tissues and organs in the body. While the exact cause of RA is not yet known, it is known that the immune system plays a large role in both the progress and the extent of the disease.

Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Just as there is currently no cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis, there is also no known cause for it either. While research and studies have been inconclusive, they have pointed to a few possible explanations. One of the most common theories is that the Rheumatoid Arthritis disease travels through genetics. This would explain why various family members throughout different generations develop the disease. Another theory is that it can possibly be triggered by viruses, bacteria and fungi.

The onset age for Rheumatoid arthritis is usually between 40 and 50, although people of any age can suffer from the disease. It is said that approximately 1% of Americans suffer from RA and Rheumatoid arthritis affects women three times as often as men.

Symptoms Rheumatoid Arthritis

The name Rheumatoid arthritis is associated with rheumatic fever, an illness that includes severe joint pain. The disease can be an extremely painful and debilitating disease. It often leads to a significant loss of joint function and mobility, and can cause permanent deformation of the joints. It is mainly diagnosed by the symptoms the patient is presenting, but there are blood tests that can be helpful in diagnosing the disease. X-rays are sometimes used in conjunction with other tests to help detect Rheumatoid arthritis.

There are three stages to the progression of RA, they are:

Swelling - the synovial lining of the joints swell and cause pain, stiffness and swelling of the joints.

Rapid division and cell growth - this causes the thickening of the synovium.

Inflamed cells - these inflamed cells will release certain enzymes that can digest bone and cartilage, which results in deformation

Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatments

There are a variety of treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis. The most common methods are to use medications prescribed by a doctor. Aspirin is also a popular over-the-counter drug that helps with inflammation and pain. There are also things you can do from home to help with the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Regular exercise will help you keep your joints loose, but you should only do activities that are easy on your joints such as water aerobics, cycling, walking or using an elliptical. Activities such as running, jogging, tennis and hard-impact aerobics will only increase your pain. You can also try to reduce the amount of "trigger foods" in your diet. These include foods high in saturated fats such as bacon, soybean oil and sesame oil. It is good to get a good daily source of Omega-3 fatty acids, while staying away from Omega-6 fatty acids. Also, daily vitamins will help you manage your Rheumatoid Arthritis pain.

Rheumatoid arthritis is not a curable disease. It is a systematic disease that not only affects the bones and joints, but other organs as well. It is extremely important to receive early treatment for RA in order to limit the damage to the joints which could result in the loss of mobility and functions of the joints and other parts of the body.