Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a condition where the joints in different parts of the body are inflamed. It is a chronic auto immune disease which can sometimes affect the other tissues of the body too. There has been no concrete cause for the disease though it is said that smoking does increase the severity of the disease. Statistics prove that around 1.3million people in the USA have been affected by this disease.
Symptoms of the Disease:
Some of the symptoms and signs of arthritis are as follows:
Pain, tenderness, swelling, redness and stiffness in joints
Limping and loss of joint function are some of the other symptoms of the RA.
In RA usually multiple joints are affected with symmetric pain. Sometimes RA can lead to permanent damage of the joints. The disease is characterized by periods of severity and sometimes patients go for long periods without any symptoms.
Treatment Options for RA:
Though there is no treatment available for rheumatoid arthritis early detection and medications can reduce the damage caused by the condition. Some of the treatment options are listed below:
Medicines: Medicines can be given which reduce the inflammation in the joints thus reducing the pain. Medicines also help in preventing the damage to the joints.
Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): These medications play a significant part in reducing the inflammation of the joints and the pain associated with it. These medicines however cause side effects such as irritation of the stomach, heart, liver and kidney problems.
Steroids: These medications involve the use of corticosteroids to reduce joint inflammation, pain and joint damage. The medications are often associated with severe weight gain, diabetes and bone thinning.
Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs): These drugs help in slowing down the progression of the condition and prevent it from spreading to other joints. The drugs also help in preventing permanent damage to the joints and tissues. As in other drugs these cause side effects such as liver damage, suppression of the bone marrow function and lung infections. The DMARDs need to be taken in the early stages of the condition.
Biologic Agents: These drugs are known as biologic response modifiers and suppress the immune system which causes the inflammation of the joints and tissue damage. It is advisable to take both the biologic and non biologic DMARD’s together for better results. The patients under this type of medication however are prone to frequent infections.
Therapy: Physical and occupational therapy such as hot or cold compress, ultrasound, exercises, hydrotherapy, adequate rest, relaxation techniques and finger splinting devices will help in reducing the pain and inflammation of the joints.
Surgery: If the above mentioned treatments fail then minor or major surgeries are often undertaken to check the spread of disease.
Total Joint Replacement: In this type of surgery the damaged parts of the joint are removed and replaced with the parts made of metal and plastic.
Repair of Tendons: The loose and damaged tendons around the damaged joints are set right through surgery.
Joint Fusion Surgery: Two or more joints are fused together to strengthen a joint. This is done to reduce pain and when the option of a joint replacement is not feasible.
Since there is no specific treatment for the condition which cures the patient of the condition completely it is advisable that the symptoms of the condition are not ignored and the best possible treatment options are taken at the earliest to prevent the condition from spreading to other parts of the body as well.