Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder affecting the small joints in the hands and feet as well as affecting the covering of the joints. It causes sore inflammation and will result to bone erosion and deformity of the joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis happens when the immune system of the body attacks the tissues of the body and can sometimes affect other organs of the body like the skin, eyes, lungs and the blood vessels. Rheumatoid arthritis can occur at any age and usually begins after age 40 and women are more susceptible to the condition.
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
- Morning stiffness that can last for hours
- Tender, warm and swelling joints
- Presence of bumps of tissue found under the skin of the arms also known as rheumatoid nodules
- There is fever, fatigue and loss of weight
Rheumatoid arthritis affects the smaller joints first, especially the joints that attaches the fingers to the hands and the toes to the feet. As the condition progresses, the symptoms can spread to the wrist, ankles, knees, elbows, shoulders and hips in the same joints on both sides of the body. Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms may vary in severity and just come and go. There are periods of increased disease activity called flare ups, alternating with periods of remission where the swelling and pain disappear. Over time, rheumatoid arthritis can cause deformity of the joints and shifts out of place.
Causes of rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis happens when the immune system attacks the synovium which is the lining of the membranes that are surrounding the joints. It will cause inflammation that will thicken the synovium which can destroy the cartilage and bones found within the joints. The tendons and ligaments that functions in holding the joints together will weaken and stretch and eventually the joint will lose its shape and alignment.
Complications that can be caused by rheumatoid arthritis like some medications used for treating rheumatoid arthritis can increase the risk for developing osteoporosis, a condition that cause weakening of the bones and making them prone to fractures. Another is carpal tunnel syndrome which is an inflammation that compresses the nerves found in the hands and fingers. Rheumatoid arthritis can also cause hardening and blockage of arteries and the inflammation of the sac that encloses the heart and an increased risk of inflammation and scarring of the tissues of the lungs which can result to shortness of breath.
Treatment and home remedies
- Do some gentle exercises every day in order to help strengthen the muscles found around the joints and help minimize fatigue that can be felt. Avoid exercising injured and severely inflamed joints.
- Apply heat compress in order to minimize the pain and relax tense and painful muscles. Cold compress can also be applied in order to numb the muscles and minimize spasms of the muscles. You can learn more about the effectiveness of cold by enrolling in a first aid course
- Avoid stress.
- Take fish oil supplements in order to reduce rheumatoid arthritis pain and stiffness.
- Do some Tai chi which is a movement therapy like a gentle exercises and stretches together with deep breathing, it helps in relieving stress.