Affecting around 1 percent of general population across the world, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has become a global menace. Further, it is known to cause significantly high number of deaths and contribute to reduced life expectancy, with standardized mortality rates being registered between 1.28 and 3.0 percent. [1] It is among the major causes of disability with over one third of patients end up being disabled.

Characterized by the symptoms including swelling, stiffness and pain in the joints, AR is an autoimmune disease which occurs when your immune system (which safeguards our body against infections) mistakenly attacks the cells lining your joints, thereby resulting in swollen, stiff and painful joints. It can eventually starts to damage the joint and the adjoining bone and cartilage

Though the exact cause of this immune-related problem is unknown, you run the risk of developing RA if [2]

  • Somebody in your family has/had rheumatoid arthritis
  • You are a smoker
  • You are a woman

Women have more risk of developing AR than men. Progresses with age, the problem generally starts in the middle age and has been found to be most common in older people.

Unlike what most people assume, rheumatoid arthritis is not same as osteoarthritis that is known to majorly affect elderly. Also, contrary to osteoporosis which mostly affects joints, RA can trouble other body parts as well including eyes, mouth and lungs.

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Ignorance is hazardous 

Studies suggest that a major population of patients with RA doesn’t report the problem to the right specialty. They seek medical assistance from orthopaedicians and health care professionals from alternative systems of medicine. Only one third of the patients approach rheumatologists, the experts to tackle the problem. In addition, around 80 % of patients are able to establish the right diagnosis only after 18 months of the onset, out of which 84 % patients has poor control of disease. In conclusion, we are not addressing the problem as we ought to. [3]

How Can Rheumatoid Arthritis be Dangerous?

Rheumatoid arthritis is much more than a joint problem as it has been found to be associated with a number of health conditions which if not treated well in time can become life-threatening.

Some common complications may include: [4]

  • Inflammation of other body parts including lungs, heart and eyes
  • Addition risk of heart attacks and strokes

Therefore, it is important rheumatoid arthritis is treated and managed with proper medical assistance, in order to help diminish the risk of these complications.

Treating rheumatoid arthritis

It may sound a bit harsh but rheumatoid arthritis has no cure. However, the patients can still lead normal lives and participate in routine activities with timely diagnosis and proper treatment subsequently.

The effective treatment options include: [5]

  • Taking medication over a longer period to alleviate symptoms and control the progression of the condition
  • Corrective surgery to manage joint problems caused due the problem
  • Alternative treatments including physiotherapy that helps your maintain your required daily activity

It is important to note that timely presentation and treatment at earlier stage can helpful in prevention of joint erosions or retard progression of erosive disease, caused due to RA. [6] Also adapting your schedules and lifestyle to cope up with the problem and episodes of pain, stiffness and joint damage can help enjoy better quality of life.

 

References:

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2892739/

[2] https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/rheumatoid.htm

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27122121

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2892739/

[5] http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Rheumatoid-arthritis/Pages/Treatment.aspx

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3766928/

 

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