Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is not caused by wear and tear of joints as we age. It develops when the immune system of the body considers the membrane that surrounds the joint as a harmful foreign substance. Immune cells attack the body joints, causing inflammation and pain in the joints or arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis causes
The factors that trigger the abnormal immune response leading to rheumatoid arthritis are yet to be identified. It is even unclear why majority of rheumatoid arthritis patients are women between 40 and 60 years of age. Scientists believe that perhaps genetics and certain bacterial and viral infections might trigger the process. People with a family history of rheumatoid arthritis might develop this joint disorder. Smoking can make you vulnerable to rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic problem. The pain and inflammation first occurs in the small joints of the body such as the feet, ankle, wrist and hand joints. The arthritis gradually spreads to other joints of the bodies such as the knees, hips and elbows. In the worst case, rheumatoid arthritis can occur in the neck and the jaw.
Joint pain and inflammation are the primary symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. The affected joints become red and tender. Bumps or rheumatoid nodules might appear under the skin on the arm. The joint becomes stiff. The stiffness worsens in the morning. A person suffering from rheumatoid arthritis even experiences fatigue, fever and weight loss. Periods of intense pain alternate with periods of mild pain and inflammation.
Rheumatoid arthritis treatment
The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, corticosteroids, disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs and immunosuppressants. Physical and occupational therapies help to improve the joint movements. If medicines and therapies fail to arrest joint damage, surgery may be required.
Rheumatoid arthritis patients should stay away from saturated fats. Studies have shown that saturated fats worsen inflammation of the joints. A vegetarian diet might be beneficial for rheumatoid arthritis patients. By limiting intake of omega-6 fatty acids found in sunflower oil, soybean oil, wheat germ oil, corn oil and sesame oil and by increase intake of omega-3 fats found in fish oil, flaxseed oil and nuts, joint inflammation could be reduced.