The basic information about Rheumatoid Arthritis is important to know since RA affects over 1 million people each year with three times as many women as men developing the disease after the age of 30. RA is a condition that affects the joints with inflammation. The synovial membrane that covers and protects the joint becomes inflamed and begins to deteriorate, causing the affected joints to become swollen and very painful.
The cause of Rheumatoid Arthritis is unknown, but doctors believe the condition is caused by bacteria that attacks the immune system. Some healthcare professionals suggest that smoking may also be the cause of the onset of RA in some people. In other cases, patients are believed to have inherited it. The disease affects the hands, wrists, knees as well as the skin, eyes, lungs, blood and the heart. Scientists believe that this type of Arthritis shortens the life expectancy of patients from 3 to 6 years.
Symptoms of Rheumatoid arthritis can come and go, depending on the severity of the disease. Common symptoms include:
-Loss of appetite
For anyone who is experiencing any of these symptoms, it is wise to contact a doctor immediately. A battery of tests will be performed to help diagnose or rule out Rheumatoid arthritis. Common diagnostic tests include:
-Analysis the synovial fluid
-Erythrocyte sedimentation rate test (ESR)- measures how fast the blood cells are moving
Currently there is no cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis, but there are numerous ways to treat it and reduce pain. A licensed physical therapist can help strengthen joints by exercise and the use of treatments such as heat and/or cold compressions, deep tissue massage wallasey wirral, and electric stimulation can help alleviate pain.
Medications are also generally prescribed to help reduce joint inflammation. Methotrexate, also known as Rheumatrex, is a oral tablet that is taken in 7 day cycles. Rheumatrex creates a barrier between the growing cells in the immune system and serve to divide the cells. Leflunomide, also known as Arava, is taken daily and can reduce any swelling or tenderness. Any over the counter medication such as Advil and Tylenol can also reduce some pain and discomfort.
Surgery is often used to treat severe deformities, bleeding and immobility due to the ravages of Rheumatoid Arthritis. During surgery, the lining of the affected joint may be removed completely and replaced with an artificial joint. Rheumatoid Arthritis is a serious condition and generally requires a multiplicity of treatments to help keep patients relatively pain free and to extend quality of life as long as possible.