What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease that primarily affects the joints. It causes inflammation pain swelling stiffness in the affected joints typically in a symmetrical pattern. The immune system mistakenly attacks the lining of the joints called the synovium leading to joint damage disability over time.
The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis remains unknown. However several risk factors have been identified including genetic predisposition environmental factors hormonal imbalances. It is believed that a combination of these factors triggers the immune system dysfunction leading to the development of RA in susceptible individuals.
The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can vary from person to person but common signs include joint pain swelling stiffness tenderness. Morning stiffness lasting for more than an hour is a characteristic feature of RA. Other systemic symptoms such as fatigue loss of appetite low-grade fever may also be present. Additionally RA can affect other parts of the body including the lungs heart skin eyes blood vessels.
Diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis involves a combination of physical examinations medical history assessments laboratory tests imaging studies. Blood tests can detect specific markers such as rheumatoid factor (RF) anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) which are present in most individuals with RA. Imaging techniques like X-rays ultrasounds magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can help visualize joint damage monitor disease progression.
While there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis various treatment options are available to manage the symptoms slow down disease progression improve quality of life. Treatment usually involves a combination of medications including disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) corticosteroids biologic agents. Physical therapy occupational therapy lifestyle modifications also play a crucial role in managing RA.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects millions of people worldwide. It causes joint inflammation damage leading to pain stiffness disability. Early diagnosis appropriate treatment can help alleviate symptoms improve function prevent further joint damage. If you suspect you may have rheumatoid arthritis it is important to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis to discuss suitable management strategies.