Rheumatoid Arthritis: Symptoms, Causes & Types

Know more about Rheumatology, Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment & Joint Pains
Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto immune disease, which means an abnormal immune response of the body against its own cells. It primarily attacks flexible joints which can lead to extreme pain in the joints and disabling conditions. Rheumatoid arthritis can lead to loss of mobility if not treated properly. The onset of rheumatoid arthritis is generally seen among mid aged people but it can occur at any age.

Auto immune diseases share common symptoms and it becomes difficult to distinguish between the different auto immune disorders. For example, the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are similar to osteoarthritis but osteoarthritis is not an auto immune disorder and is caused by wear and tear of joints. Rheumatoid arthritis can also affect the skin, eyes, lungs, heart and nerves. Early treatment is the best way to control rheumatoid arthritis.

Causes & Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
The root cause of rheumatoid arthritis is still unknown. It is widely believed that a combination of genetic and environmental factors play a vital role. Immune cells that are supposed to protect the body from foreign invaders attack its own body cells. The most common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are:
  • Numbness and tingling sensation: occurs when the nerves are affected causing a sensation of numbness or tingling.
  • Difficulty in raising a hand or foot: Not being able to raise or move a hand or foot is a more serious complication of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Chest pain and shortness of breath: Rheumatoid arthritis can affect the muscles of the heart, tissues, nerves and blood vessels. Chest pain and shortness of breath may occur when lungs are affected
  • Bone fracture: Rheumatoid arthritis is inflammatory in nature and can lead to loss of bone mass. One should take calcium rich diet and Vitamin D in such cases.
Types of Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Knee rheumatoid arthritis: It causes the knee to swell up and restricts its movement. This causes severe joint pain and stiffness.
  • Hip rheumatoid arthritis: This is a form of arthritis that affects the hip. This usually occurs in late stages of the disease
  • Hand and finger rheumatoid arthritis: Quiet often hands and fingers get affected causing pain and restriction in movement of hands and fingers.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment
There is no known cure for rheumatoid arthritis. The aim of treatment is reducing pain and improving mobility, preventing deformities so that a person can perform all normal activities. Earlier is the intervention, better is the outcome.

Optimal treatment for the disease involves a combination of medications, rest, joint-strengthening exercises, joint protection, and patient (and family) education. Treatment is customized according to many factors such as disease, activity, types of joints involved, general health, age, and patient occupation. Treatment is most successful when there is close cooperation between the doctor, patient and family member

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