What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis? Causes, symptoms, treatment
What is rheumatoid arthritis?
Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have a chronic autoimmune condition where their immune system mistakenly attacks the healthy cells in their body, leading to inflammation (painful swelling) in the affected parts of the body. This disease commonly affects the hands, knees or ankles, and usually the same joint on both sides of the body. Sometimes, other parts of the body (eyes, heart, and circulatory system and/or lung) can be affected as well.
In a healthy body, the immune system will attack bacteria, viruses to fight infection. However, with rheumatoid arthritis, healthy cells that line your joints are attacked, which causes the joints to become swollen, stiff, and painful. Unfortunately, doctors do not yet know the exact reason behind RA. There are some possible factors that may put you at higher risk of having this chronic disease:
- Family history with RA
What is rheumatoid arthritis like? At the early stage, patients may experience tenderness and pain, not visible redness or swelling in the joint.
Rheumatoid arthritis affects everyone differently regardless of age, gender.
Pay attention to some warning signs of RA such as:
- Joint pain, tenderness, swelling, or stiffness that lasts for six weeks or longer.
- Small joints (wrists, certain joints in the hands and feet) are typically affected first.
- The same joints on both sides of the body are affected.
Rheumatoid arthritis affects everyone differently regardless of age, gender. Let’s break down the mindset that someone is “too young to have arthritis” as it may hurt their feelings. Avoiding what NOT to say to people living with RA is important because your words, even coming with good intentions, may hurt them.
When to get medical advice
If you suspect that you have symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, contact a general practitioner (GP) as soon as possible so that they can try to identify the underlying cause. The sooner rheumatoid arthritis is diagnosed, the more likely your condition can be prevented from getting worse or from the risk of joint damage.
Not so great news, rheumatoid arthritis is incurable. However, early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can help patients to enjoy their life to the fullest possible and continue their daily activities and work.
Take your pill consistently, every day.
Several options of treatment include:
- Long-term medication: relieve symptoms and slow down the condition
- Supportive treatments: for example, physiotherapy and occupational therapy, to support your daily activities in case of having any problems.
- Surgery: to fix any new or existing joint problems.
In terms of taking medication for rheumatoid arthritis, it is vital to stay consistent, which means taking your pill every day at the same time. This routine will help keep your condition under control, reduce flares, and make your life somewhat easier. There is no doubt that many solutions for remembering medication are available, from the humble smartphone alarm to a smart pill tracker. Please keep in mind that seeking help from a professional health advisor or doctor is super important when your condition is worsening or if you miss your pill.
Popit collaborates with Pfizer to improve the adherence of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. After studying rheumatoid arthritis patients’ treatment journey, Pfizer discovered that they do not receive sufficient support in order to cope with the condition. Therefore, this collaboration targets encouraging the patient’s medication treatment and gives them less stress about forgetting their pill. Popit Smart Pill Reminder can be purchased here; Popit App, delivery fee are all included.
Mikko Veräjänkorva is a pharmacist and holds a BScBa in International Business. He has over 15 years experience in pharmaceutical field from pharmacy, medical and pharmaceutical industry. He is one of the founders and board members of Farenta since 2003.
My aim is to write informative high quality articles based on science in way that all of us can easily understand the point. Science and evidence based research is at the core of my writing. The main purpose of my articles are to provide practical information on healthy lifestyle and to provide reliable and practical information about different medical conditions.
Bringing medical jargon to the masses is my mission.