Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic and often progressive disease that affects the connective tissues of the body. It is an autoimmune disorder in which the body mistakenly attacks its own connective tissues, resulting in an inflammation of the synovial membranes that lubricate the joints. This, in turn, causes irreversible damage and scarring in the body’s joints. It primarily affects middle-aged people and is far less common than osteoarthritis, which is associated with aging and the elderly.
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Some of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include:
- Swollen, warm, and tender joints.
- Stiffness and pain in the joints, especially in the morning and after long periods of inactivity.
- Weight loss.
Rheumatoid arthritis usually affects the smaller joints in the hands and feet first before progressing to the wrists, knees, and shoulders. The onset of the disease is gradual, and patients may experience coldness, numbness, and tingling in the hands and feet before symptoms start to grow progressively worse.
The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may come and go and vary in severity. Many people living with the disease may experience periods of relative remission followed by severe flare-ups. Eventually, the scarring caused by rheumatoid arthritis will cause the joints to deform and stiffen.
Managing Rheumatoid Arthritis
The damage caused by rheumatoid arthritis is permanent, but the condition can be managed to a degree. Aspirin and ibuprofen are both effective in pain management due to their anti-inflammatory properties, and small doses of corticosteroids have also proven to be effective. Physical therapy can help relieve the pain and swelling in the joints, and maintaining proper posture will help prevent joint deformity.
Did you know that rheumatoid arthritis is three times more common in women than in men? Learn more about rheumatoid arthritis and possible treatments by contacting Dr. Shane Silver today.