Rheumatoid arthritis is defined as a long-standing condition that triggers swelling, pain and rigidity in the joints. The symptoms typically affect the feet, hands and wrists.
There are phases in which the symptoms worsen which is called as flare-ups. It is hard to predict when one will occur but with treatment, it is possible to lessen the frequency of the flare-ups and reduce or prevent lasting joint damage.
Some individuals with rheumatoid arthritis might also experience issues in other parts of the body or generalized symptoms such as weight loss or tiredness.
What are the causes?
Rheumatoid arthritis is considered as an autoimmune condition. It simply means that the immune system attacks the cells lining the joints by mistake, resulting to swollen, painful and stiff joints.
Over time, the joint itself is damaged, even the cartilage and adjacent bone. Even today, it is still unclear what triggers this issue with the immune system, but the following are at risk:
- Those who smoke
- Individuals with a family history of rheumatoid arthritis
Management of rheumatoid arthritis
Remember that there is no available cure for rheumatoid arthritis. Nevertheless, early diagnosis and correct treatment allows individuals with the condition to have periods of months or even years between the joint pain flare-ups.
Generally, the commonly used treatment options include the following:
- Drugs that are taken long-term to alleviate the symptoms and slow down the progression of rheumatoid arthritis
- Supportive care such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy to keep the individual mobile during daily activities
- Surgical intervention to fix any joint issues that might arise
Depending on the seriousness of the pain, rigidity and damage to the joints, the individual must adapt in performing daily tasks which might become more difficult or take longer to finish.