Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms And Causes

Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms And Causes

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Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms And Causes

Rheumatoid Arthritis is when the synovial membrane that lies within the capsule of a joint is the target of a misdirected immune system, it causes inflammation to the joints. This membrane produces the gel-like synovial fluid which is responsible for lubricating the joints. Without this fluid, smooth joint movement would be impossible.

Inflammation is the body’s natural reaction to arthritic diseases, causing pain, swelling and heat. People with this progressive disease go through periods of increased activity called flares, followed by periods of relative remission, when the swelling and pain fade or disappear.

This disease can strike at any age. The onset is most common between ages of 25 and 55, and around 57% of sufferers are women.

Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis

The most common symptom of rheumatoid arthritis is tender, swollen joints. It is usual for both sides of the body to be affected with the disease.

Rheumatoid arthritis usually starts in the joints of the fingers, toes and feet. As the disease progresses the pain and swelling often spreads to the wrists, ankles, knees, elbows, hips, and shoulders.

When the lining of the membranes have been damaged the inflammation thickens the synovial membrane. This can eventually destroy the cartilage and the bone within the joint.

Sometimes when the tendons and ligaments stretch and weaken the joint gradually loses its shape and alignment.

Sleeping difficulties, because of pain, increases the persistent fatigue which is a common condition of this disease.

Around 40% of people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis additionally have symptoms that do not involve the joints. A wide variety of body systems including the lungs, heart, blood vessels, skin and eyes, can be affected.

Complications Of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Medication for rheumatoid arthritis and the disease itself can further impair the immune system, leading to an increased risk of infection. Medication and the disease itself can also pose a greater risk of osteoporosis occurring.

There is an increased risk of experiencing Sjogren’s Syndrome, a disorder that decreases the moisture in the eyes and mouth. There is also a greater risk of inflammation and scarring of lung tissue which can lead to progressive shortening of the breath.

If rheumatoid arthritis has affected the wrists, it can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. This syndrome causes the inflammation to compress the nerves that serve most of the hand and fingers. In some cases the heart is affected, increasing the risk of hardened and blocked arteries and inflammation of the sac that encloses the heart.

Management Of Rheumatoid Arthritis

A physiotherapist can provide an activity moderation plan to help manage pain, and prescribe an exercise program to help keep joints mobile and strong.

Exercise will build up stamina and help to maintain muscle strength and joint flexibility, which all help with pain management. Complementary therapies such as massage and acupuncture may also provide relief from pain.

Rest can help manage fatigue and this is particularly important at the times when flares occur, and the joints are red, sore and swollen. If the joint is very painful or if there is a risk of losing overall function, surgery may become necessary.

Causes Of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Genes do not actually cause rheumatoid arthritis. However scientists believe that some people are more susceptible than others to environmental factors. Infection, viruses and bacteria are thought to be some of the factors that can trigger the onset.

It is thought that smoking increases the risk for people who have a genetic predisposition for developing the disease, with symptoms appearing more severe.

 

Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms And Causes
Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms And Causes

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