Arthritis means joint inflammation and covers some 200 conditions. Osteoarthritis, Rheumatic arthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis are the most common. One of the causes of osteoarthritis is heavy workload of the joint and consequent ware and tare. Rheumatic arthritis is caused by Streptococci bacteria. This is basically a childhood disease and besides joints affects heart also. It has serious consequences. Rheumatoid arthritis or RA on the other hand is an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune disease is akin to the fence, instead of protecting the crop, its actual job, goes berserk and starts to eat the crop. Immune system is to protect the body from harmful bacteria, fungi, virus and the like.
Unfortunately, for some unknown and not clearly understood reasons immune system turns hyperactive and starts attacking and damaging healthy tissues of the body. When the victim of the weirdness of the immune system is the synovial tissue lining the joint results in inflammation and damages to the structures of the joint. This condition is called Rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid Arthritis – Causes in one word would be hyperactive immune system. Recent researches have given the doctors and other scientist some understanding of the causes. Some genes have been identified as increasing the risks of developing arthritis in those these are found. It is suggested that certain environmental factors can cause the onset of RA in those who are susceptible. Besides, RA shows some of the characteristic features common to other autoimmune diseases like periods of activity followed by remittance. Certain infections like chronic periodontal diseases, smoking, continued exposures to silica minerals are found to cause the onset of RA. If one joint on one side is affected the same joint on the other side is also likely to be affected. This feature helps doctors to identify RA from other forms.
Though the exact Rheumatoid Arthritis causes are unknown the present day knowledge points to the fact that it is more a combination of factors like hereditary susceptibility and environmental factors are the main causes. The insight gained during recent researches have helped to help the victims to lead a near normal life for most time and to afford medication to reduce the discomfort during the exacerbations and to generally slow down the progress of the disease. No single test can identify RA. The doctor normally depends on the history of the patient and his physical examination of the patient to arrive at initial diagnosis. Generally treating RA is done by a specialist, Rheumatologist. He would do further tests to arrive at a firm diagnosis and inform you of the causes.
Rheumatoid factor is a protein found in large number of patients suffering from RA. It is also associated with other autoimmune diseases. Anti–citrullinated protein antibody is associated with RA. The C-reactive protein is produced in any inflammation but in RA high amount is found. Imaging tests like ultrasonography, x-ray and MRI are done to determine the exact amount of damage that has happened in the joint.
Medication involves two approaches. The first is to ameliorate the symptoms during the aggravations and commonly NSAIDs, corticosteroids, and acetaminophen are used. The other group consists of disease modifying drugs. These normally promote remittance and reduce progressive joint destruction. These are slow acting and include methotrexate and hydroxychloroquine. Their mode of action is by suppressing the immune system reducing the immune response. These drugs are not without side effects. There is a subset in immune-suppressors differing from the general ones in that they target specific immune response. Tofacitinib blocks a special enzyme called Janus kinase and hence the name JAK blocker.
There are many home remedies said to be effective and help avoid the causes of rheumatoid arthritis. One glove does not fit all and hence some trial and error are involved. They certainly not as potent as the drugs but their continued use in diet is said to afford relief. Some of these are Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines. Similarly, the curcumin in dietary turmeric is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Taken daily it is credited with giving relief to inflammatory conditions. Other foods that seem to have beneficiary influence on RA are item that has large fiber content. Foods like whole grains, fruits, fresh vegetables have fiber and reduce the inflammatory responses. Antioxidants are helpful in reducing inflammation. Vitamins like C, A, E and selenium are very powerful antioxidants and foods high in these are berries like blueberry, cranberry, and strawberry; dark chocolate, spinach, kidney beans, artichokes, and pecans. Foods containing flavonoids like soy products as tofu and miso; berries, green teas, broccoli, and grapes are also beneficial.
Non-impact exercises, soft yoga, swimming can help to strengthen muscles around the joints and increase the range of motions and flexibility. Hence, they are recommended. With all this it is not difficult to lead a near normal socially useful life with RA.