Rheumatoid Arthritis: Understanding it and treating it

Rheumatoid-Arthritis

Today, as science and the world of pharmaceutics have advanced beyond comprehension, so have the viruses, bacteria and deadly disease effecting the human body. One such deadly disease that seems to be on the rise is called rheumatoid arthritis. According to some medical surveys, which were undertaken recently, on an average 41 people out of every hundred thousand of the population are affected by rheumatoid arthritis, and majority of them are women. In fact, women are twice more likely to suffer from rheumatoid arthritis than men. So today, we break down some of the basics of rheumatoid arthritis as well as some simple ways of living with it.

What is rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disease. What does this mean, exactly? For starters, the immune system is what protects our bodies from the attacking bacteria and viruses, and helps us ward off diseases. Unfortunately, in some individuals, the immune system not only attacks the external disease causing agents, but it also starts destroying healthy cells, leading to an auto-immune disease.

In rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks the healthy tissue of the joints called synovium. As a result, the synovial tissue swells up and causes pain. The synovial fluid deposition in between the bones of the joints, also starts to decrease as a result of rheumatoid arthritis.

What are the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis?

Some of the major and most commonly observed rheumatoid arthritis symptoms in affected individuals include:

• Trouble in breathing: People who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis are at a very high risk of sustaining scarring along the tissues and the lining of the lung. This can lead to difficulty in breathing, and can often manifest itself in the form of prolonged cough, wheezing, or shortness of breath.

• Swelling in the joints: This is a tell-tale sign of rheumatoid arthritis. Joints, usually the knees and the ankles swell up to sizes disproportionate to the body and this swelling is usually accompanied by pain that makes movement difficult.

• High temperature: Some anti-rheumatoid arthritis medications suppress the immune system’s ability to fight external agents like disease causing viruses. Therefore, the body becomes more prone to diseases and fevers.

• Frequent fractures: If rheumatoid arthritis is left untreated for a long period of time, it can cause some serious damage to cartilage and bone tissue, and in extreme cases, lead to osteoporosis – the thinning of bones. This, in turn, makes the bones weak, and break or fracture easily.

• Tingling or pin-prick sensation: Swollen joints and inflamed joint tissue exerts pressure and pushes against the surrounding healthy tissue of the body and the neurons. This generates numbness in certain regions, and tingling in others like elbows and wrists.

• Digestive problems: Inflammation due to prolonged rheumatoid arthritis as well as anti-inflammatory cortisol drugs can lead to severe ulcers and bleeding in the stomach muscles. Similarly, the alteration of bacteria content in the digestive tract can lead to diarrhea as well as constipation.

• Visual problems:
Severe inflammation can cause serious damage to the tissues of your eyes including the white part called “sclera” as well as the cornea. This manifests itself in a constant “redness” of the eye for a prolonged period of time.

• Depression: As is the case with any major physiological disorder or disease, rheumatoid arthritis can bring about mood swings, anxiety and depression in some patients.

Is there any treatment for rheumatoid arthritis?

How much or to what degree your doctor or physician is able to “cure” your rheumatoid arthritis depends completely on how much the disease has progressed in your body, and how well your body responds to treatments and drugs. But the main goals of treatment are:
• Bring down swelling of the joints and lessen the pain.
• Prevent any damage to internal organs and the bones.
• Make movement and everyday working easier.
• Reduce chances of complications and further diseases in the future.

What are the forms of treatment for rheumatoid arthritis?

Till date, there is no drug that can completely cure a person of rheumatoid arthritis. Instead, medical professionals use a combination of treatments to help manage the symptoms and prevent further damage.

• Drugs and medication: The people at an initial stage of this disease are usually recommended non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen and ketoprofen, to help with the pain. In case the patient stands at a high risk of developing serious stomach disorders and ulcers, they are recommended a certain non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that acts as a COX-2 inhibitor.
Corticosteroids are also used as a temporary drug, to keep the inflammation and resulting damage under control, because they tend to have certain negative side effects.
Certain anti-rheumatic drugs like azathioprine are used to supposedly alter the course of the disease in the individual’s body.

• Surgery: Surgeries are the last resort in cases where the disease has progressed to the last level, causing permanent damage to the bones and joints. In this case, a joint replacement surgery is done where the damaged parts are substituted by similar parts made of metal or plastic.

• Physical therapy: In the initial stages of rheumatoid arthritis, doctors usually recommend physical therapy to ease the pain in the joints and the muscles, as well as regular exercise to prevent further damage of the bones and maintain joint mobility.

Hydrotherapy is a very popular way of treating rheumatoid arthritis, wherein the individual is made to do light exercises in a pool filled with warm water. The idea behind this is that while the exercise helps the joints, the warm water relaxes the muscles.

Can heat therapy help rheumatoid arthritis?

Heat therapy or thermotherapy is one of the newest forms of treatment that is steadily becoming popular for rheumatoid arthritis. This includes placing heated pads onto the area of swelling, exercising in a pool of warm water, taking regular warm showers and so on. The idea behind this is that the heat increases the flow of blood to the affected area, which in turn, helps reduce the swelling and the pain. The heat also relaxes the muscles and improves the affected individual’s pain tolerance.

Heating therapy is very popular among patients suffering from arthritis, particularly because it does not have any negative side effects on the body and also because one does not need to go to the doctor or physical therapist to get a sitting of heat therapy. It can very easily be done all alone, at home within 15 to 20 minutes on a daily basis.

So, there you have it, some of the very basic facts and truths about rheumatoid arthritis. Of course, this goes without saying that only a medical expert can assess the amount of damage and course of treatment for a person who is suffering from this disease.

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Dalmia Herbal Store

Dalmia Herbal Store wrote 66 posts

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