Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints. RA is a systemic disease, often affecting extra-articular tissues throughout the body including the skin, blood vessels, heart, lungs, and muscles. Rheumatoid arthritis can also cause inflammation of the tissue around the joints, as well as other organs in the body. Rheumatoid arthritis is two to three times more common in women than in men and generally strikes between the ages of 20 and 50. But rheumatoid arthritis can also affect young children and adults older than age 50. About 60% of RA patients are unable to work 10 years after the onset of their disease. Rheumatoid arthritis is a common rheumatic disease, affecting more than two million people in the United States. The disease is three times more common in women as in men. It afflicts people of all races equally. RA can affect any joint, but the most common places are the hands or feet. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) causes redness, pain, swelling or a hot (or warm) feeling in the lining of a joint, the place where 2 or more bones come together. Worldwide, about 1% of people are believed to have rheumatoid arthritis, but the rate varies among different groups of people.
Rheumatoid arthritis is different from osteoarthritis, the common arthritis that often comes with older age. Rheumatoid arthritis is rarely associated with pyoderma gangrenosum, a necrotizing, ulcerative, noninfectious neutrophilic dermatosis. RA can affect body parts besides joints, such as your eyes, mouth and lungs. RA is an autoimmune disease, which means the arthritis results from your immune system attacking your body’s own tissues. Rheumatoid arthritis most often affects the smaller joints, such as those of the hands and/or feet, wrists, elbows, knees, and/or ankles. RA may start gradually or with a sudden, severe attack with flu-like symptoms. It’s important to remember that RA symptoms vary from person to person. In some people the disease will be mild with periods of activity or joint inflammation and inactivity. Along with painful, inflamed joints, RA can cause inflammation in other body tissues and organs. In 20% of cases, lumps called rheumatoid nodules develop under the skin, often over bony areas.
Treatments for arthritis have improved in recent years. Corticosteroids. These medications, such as prednisone and methylprednisolone (Medrol), reduce inflammation and pain, and slow joint damage. Medications used to control RA fall into two categories: those that relieve symptoms and those that have the potential to modify the course of the disease. Exercise is also an important part of a treatment program. Immunosuppressants medications act to tame your immune system, which is out of control in rheumatoid arthritis. Some of the commonly used immunosuppressants include leflunomide (Arava), azathioprine (Imuran), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune) and cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan). These medications can have potentially serious side effects such as increased susceptibility to infection. Rituximab-Rituximab reduces the number of B cells in your body. B cells are involved in inflammation. The most common antidepressants used for arthritis pain and nonrestorative sleep are amitriptyline, nortriptyline (Aventyl, Pamelor) and trazodone (Desyrel).
Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment Tips
1. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Motrin and others), naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve), celecoxib (Celebrex) and many others.
2. Light exercise may be beneficial for improving blood circulation to joints.
3. Various anti-cytokine medications are now being used to treat painful disease states such as Rheumatoid Arthritis.
4. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is a type of medicine that reduces pain and swelling.
5. Severely affected joints may require joint replacement surgery, such as knee replacement.
6. Corticosteroids are man-made drugs that closely resemble cortisone, a hormone natural produced by the body.
7. Immunosuppressants medications act to tame your immune system, which is out of control in rheumatoid arthritis.