Rheumatoid Arthritis: An Overview
October 13, 2021
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a chronic, inflammatory autoimmune disease that destroys the joints. It can cause functional disability if it is not treated on time. Rheumatoid Arthritis manifests through pain, stiffening, swelling, and often the deformity of several joints. It also causes fatigue. The immune system gradually attacks the cartilage, tendons, ligaments and bones. Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and flare-ups can vary in intensity and duration. This disease usually affects the hands and wrists but can also spread to other joints. Most often, the joints are painful in the morning when waking up. Other symptoms that do not affect the joints include dry eyes and mouth, damage to the heart or lungs etc. People with rheumatoid arthritis sometimes have a fever and loss of appetite. Due to this disease, everyday actions can become very painful to perform.
“Rheumatoid arthritis is inflammatory rheumatism that affects most joints. In the beginning, the joints of the hands and feet are particularly concerned. It affects every three women for a man who is, on average, from 45 years and above. In the absence of any treatment, polyarthritis will generate pain and joint discomfort. Ultimately, after a few years, it will cause significant disabilities in the most severe forms. So it’s better to take action on them at an early stage”, says Dr. Ashok S. Gavaskar, Clinical Lead, Orthopaedics and Joint Replacement
Rheumatoid arthritis can cause significant pain and discomfort with consequences for sleep and an alteration of the self-image. While the improvement in care is real, many patients cannot perform even simple everyday actions. They may need a spouse or loved one to do simple things like buttoning their clothes. It becomes difficult and painful and affects the patients quality of life and self-confidence as they are not able to be independent for such a simple gesture.
The reasons for the onset of rheumatoid arthritis remain poorly understood at this time. It can appear at any age but its peak onset is between 40 and 50 years old. If symptoms appear, it is better to consult an orthopaedician. The earlier the disease is detected, the more effective the treatment will be in stopping or slowing its progression. With the advancement in science, Rheumatoid Arthritis is treated better today. It is possible that its symptoms disappear over a long period or even forever if the treatment is sufficient and rapid.
“This autoimmune disease can be debilitating if left untreated. It can also cause functional disability and joint destruction. In some cases, it can even lead to deformity and premature death. The goals of treatment are to improve the signs and symptoms of the disease, overall quality of life, and prevent or delay damage to affected joints” concludes Dr. Ashok S. Gavaskar.