In our last blog we explored what is Rheumatoid Arthritis, the symptoms and the causes of it. Let’s look at the risk factors, diagnosis, possible treatment and care.
According WHO, the prevalence of Rheumatoid Arthritis varies between 0.3% and 1% and is more common in women and in developed countries.
Within 10 years of onset, at least 50% of patients in developed countries are unable to hold down a full-time job!
Factors that may increase your risk of rheumatoid arthritis include:
- Your sex. Women are more likely than men to develop rheumatoid arthritis.
- Age. Rheumatoid arthritis can occur at any age, but it most commonly begins between the ages of 40 and 60.
- Family history. If a member of your family has rheumatoid arthritis, you may have an increased risk of the disease.
- Smoking. Cigarette smoking increases your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, particularly if you have a genetic predisposition for developing the disease. Smoking also appears to be associated with greater disease severity.
- Environmental exposures. Although uncertain and poorly understood, some exposures such as asbestos or silica may increase the risk for developing rheumatoid arthritis.
- Obesity. People who are overweight or obese appear to be at somewhat higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, especially in women diagnosed with the disease when they were 55 or younger.
Rheumatoid arthritis can be difficult to diagnose in its early stages because the early signs and symptoms mimic those of many other diseases. There is no one blood test or physical finding to confirm the diagnosis.
During the physical exam, your doctor will check your joints for swelling, redness and warmth. He or she may also check your reflexes and muscle strength.
People with rheumatoid arthritis often have an elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR, or sed rate) or C-reactive protein (CRP), which may indicate the presence of an inflammatory process in the body. Other common blood tests look for rheumatoid factor and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) antibodies.
Your doctor may recommend X-rays to help track the progression of rheumatoid arthritis in your joints over time. MRI and ultrasound tests can help your doctor judge the severity of the disease in your body.
There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis. However with the tight treatment you can control the inflammation and slow or stop the progression of the disease.
Treatment usually includes medications, occupational or physical therapy, and regular exercise. Some people need surgery to correct joint damage. Early, aggressive treatment with strong medications known as disease- modifying anti rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) has shown that remission of symptoms is more likely.
Your doctor may send you to a physical or occupational therapist who can teach you exercises to help keep your joints flexible. The therapist may also suggest new ways to do daily tasks, which will be easier on your joints. For example, if your fingers are sore, you may want to pick up an object using your forearms.
Assistive devices can make it easier to avoid stressing your painful joints. For instance, a kitchen knife equipped with a saw handle helps protect your finger and wrist joints. Certain tools, such as buttonhooks, can make it easier to get dressed.
If medications fail to prevent or slow joint damage, you and your doctor may consider surgery to repair damaged joints. Surgery may help restore your ability to use your joint. It can also reduce pain and correct deformities.
Hope you found this information useful ! As is the case with most of the diseases awareness and education goes a long way in helping the patient and their loved ones to cope with the disease. Please share the article with your family and friends and leave us your comments on how you or the people around you, are coping with their fight with RA.
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