Rheumatoid Arthritis or RA is quite distinct from osteoarthritis and has its own unique symptoms. knee arthritis Rheumatoid Arthritis is an inflammatory and autoimmune disease that affects the whole body rather than specific areas as is the case with Osteoarthritis.
The exact cause of RA is at this time unknown however we do know that the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis occur when the autoimmune system turns on itself. As a result it attacks the synovium which is a membrane which lines the joints. When this is damaged it causes fluid to build up in the joints, this is in turn causes pain. The pain that is caused by RA is known as systemic pain because it is felt all over the body rather than in one area.
Unfortunately the long term rheumatoid arthritis prognosis is that it is a chronic condition meaning that there is no known cure. However it can be treated and damage can be prevented. It is important that RA is identified early on and is treated aggressively in order to try and force the disease into remission. As RA progresses it can cause organ failure and permanent disability.
Signs to watch out for that you are suffering from RA include a decreased range of motion in your joints as well as a sensation that that joints feel warm to the touch. Often you will experience these sensations on matching joints in the body for example the left and right hand wrist. The reason for this is because the disease is systemic and thus affects the entire body rather than a single joint. You may also notice other symptoms such as fatigue and a loss of appetite.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is more common in women than it is men with 70% of sufferers being female. It is also a relatively common problem with approximately 1% of the population suffering from RA. It generally develops in women between the ages of 30 and 60 but with men it does not typically onset until later in life. RA is thought to be mostly determined by genetic predisposition. However there are external factors that help to induce RA in those that are already genetically predisposed to it. In females this might mean hormonal change or it could be exposure to a virus or other form of bacteria.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is treated with two different types of medications. One type of medication focuses on relieving the pain symptoms of arthritis in order to make living with rheumatoid arthritis more bearable. The other type of medication is focused on altering the disease or forcing it into remission. This medication can affect the immune system and induce other side effects. Thus careful monitoring of the treatment is important for both the safety and comfort of the patient.
Early treatment of RA is very important because it can force the disease into remission before irreparable joint damage is inflicted. This is why your doctor will likely recommend an aggressive set of treatment as quickly as possible upon diagnosing the condition. Work is being done on finding a cure for RA and signs are hopeful that one day this disease will be cured.
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