It has been calculated thatrheumatoid arthritis affected approximately 0.5-0.8% of the world's population,even if there are people who have not been diagnosed. This disorder mostly affects women between 30 and 50 years old. It drastically decreases the quality of life of patients because it reduces the mobility of the joints and makes any movement painful.
This term is a compound of words of Greek origin and means "inflammation of the joint", which is the main manifestation of the disease. Even though it can manifest itself in many parts of the body,this inflammation affects more the joints and is frequently accompanied by muscular pains or fever.
What is rheumatoid arthritis?
Arthritis is, as we have seen, an inflammation of the joints; the term "rheumatoid" is a non-specific term that refers to similar pains in the joints, bones, cartilage, muscles, ligaments, tendons and connective tissue.Do not confuse the term with osteoarthritiswhich concerns the bones.
The origin of rheumatoid arthritis is still unknown. His clinical signs have been described in texts dating back several centuriesbut no clear cause has been identified.We know that the immune system is involved, which pushes specialists to consider it as an autoimmune disease, and some risk factors can be taken into account.
It is a degenerative disease, which means that its symptoms inevitably worsen over time. We can only try to relieve them. The joints of a patient with arthritis painfully deform to uncomfortable positions that can not be corrected.People affected by this disease will have their autonomy reducedand will not be able to live their lives normally.
Risk Factors for Rheumatoid Arthritis
The main risk factors for arthritis are genetic.This means that if we have family members, especially at the primary level, who are suffering from this disease, the opportunities we have ourselves will increase.
Another risk factor that we have already mentioned isthe sex of the patient.Women are two to three times more likely to have rheumatoid arthritis. This propensity is thought to be due to the presence of a greater amount of estrogen, which stimulates the immune system. Another hormone related to rheumatoid arthritis is testosterone: men with low levels of testosterone are more likely to suffer from it.
Effects of rheumatoid arthritis in the body
Since this is an autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis has a predilection for the joints. During the first stage of the disease, we can only observe its symptoms in the blood, where more antibodies develop than usual.
In the second stage, the most common symptom appears: inflammation of the joints. It helps to diagnose the disease. This stage is characterized by the growth of synovial structures around the joint.The third stage is marked by chronic inflammation.The structures that surround the joint begin to degrade cartilage and bone.
In addition, the fact that rheumatoid arthritis prefers the joints does not translate into a single area of assignment: other parts or systems of our body may also suffer.Anemia, for example, is a common consequence of rheumatoid arthritis, as well as pleuritis, pulmonary fibrosis and pulmonary nodules.
Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis
Among the most common treatments we find anti-inflammatories, which act on the areas affected by the disease. In the early stages of rheumatoid arthritis, it is recommendedmoderate exercisewhich helps to delay the onset of more serious inflammation.Restis sometimes better, in addition to visiting thephysiotherapist.Other recommendations include: changing the diet and abandoning unhealthy habits such as smoking or drinking.
As we have seen, rheumatoid arthritis has no cure at the moment.His treatment will therefore always be palliative.The drugs used in the treatment will always aim to delay the last stages of the disease and to guarantee a normal development of the patient's daily life. Nevertheless, since it is a degenerative disease, this goal can not always be achieved.