Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system – which normally protects the health mistakenly attacks the joints. This creates inflammation in the tissue that lines the inside of joints know as synovium membrane , resulting in swelling and pain in and around the joints. The synovium makes a fluid that lubricates joints and helps The helps the joints to move smoothly.
If inflammation goes unchecked, it can damage cartilage, the elastic tissue that covers the ends of bones in a joint. Over time, there is loss of cartilage, and the joint spacing between bones can become smaller. Joints can become loose, unstable, painful and lose their mobility. Joint deformity also can occur. Joint damage cannot be reversed, and because it can occur early, Doctors recommend early diagnosis and aggressive treatment to control RA.
Rheumatoid arthritis most commonly affects the joints of the hands, feet, wrists, elbows, knees and ankles. The joint effect is usually symmetrical. That means if one knee or hand if affected, usually the other one is, too. Because RA also can affect body systems, such as the cardiovascular or respiratory systems, due to this this disease is called systemic disease.
Who’s Affected by Rheumatoid Arthritis?
About 1.5 million people in the United States have rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Nearly three times as many women have the disease as men. In women, RA most commonly begins between ages 30 to 60 year ; however, the majority of people with RA have no family history of the disease
Causes for Rheumatoid Arthritis
The cause of RA is not yet fully understood, although doctors do know that an abnormal response of the immune system plays a leading role in the inflammation and joint damage that occurs. No one knows for sure why the immune system goes awry, but there is scientific evidence that genes, hormones and environmental factors are involved.
Researchers continue to investigate other factors that may play a role. These factors include infectious agents such as bacteria or viruses, which may trigger development of the disease in a person whose genes make them more likely to get it with RA . Research also has indicated that environmental factors may play a role in one’s risk for rheumatoid arthritis. Some include exposure to cigarette smoke, air pollution, insecticides and occupational exposures to mineral oil and silica.
Corticosteroids. Corticosteroid medications, including prednisone, prednisolone and methyl prednisolone, are potent and quick-acting anti-inflammatory medications. They may be used in RA to get potentially damaging inflammation under control, while waiting for NSAIDs and DMARDs to take effect. Because of the risk of side effects with these drugs, doctors prefer to use them for as short a time as possible and in doses as low as possible.
By : – Dr. Rashmi Dhingra
Uttaranchal (P.G.) College of Biomedical Sciences and Hospital,