Rheumatoid Arthritis

Topics: Rheumatoid arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Inflammation Pages: 5 (1736 words) Published: September 14, 2010
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Millions of people suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis each and every day, and many may have it and do not they have the disease or how to deal with it. "With arthritis, medical treatment has an air of desperation. Doctors not only don’t know how to sort out the problem but often make a hash of things, throwing a load of potentially lethal drugs at the condition and then prescribing new drugs to deal with the side effects caused by the "treatment"."---Lynne McTaggart. This statement is true of many diseases, however Rheumatoid Arthritis is a crippling disease because of different causes, and while it is unknown what medications and treatment options are best. What is it?

They say “Rheumatoid arthritis (or RA) is a chronic inflammatory, autoimmune disorder that mainly affects the joints, although it may also affect other organs of the body including the skin, the pleura pericardium and the lung” (Watkins, 2006). Rheumatoid arthritis happens when your immune system attacks the body’s tissues. The Mayo Clinic website says that rheumatoid arthritis is two to three more times common for women than men, and generally occurs between the ages of forty and sixty (2008). There are many symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis, most of which cause different levels of pain. It generally starts in the smaller joints like the hands and wrists, and causes joint pain and swelling which can be tender to the touch. Another symptom includes morning stiffness, which can last for minutes or hours depending on the severity of the arthritis. Other symptoms can include fatigue and fever. As the disease progresses, it moves into the larger joints of the body, including the legs and arms. In most cases, symptoms occur symmetrically, affecting the same joint on both sides of the body.

The following picture is an inside view of a joint located in the finger of an individual with Rheumatoid Arthritis. The synovial fluid causes the cartilage to erode, which in turn causes the joints to lose shape.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, “The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) currently is unknown. In fact, there probably isn’t an exact cause for RA. Researchers now are debating whether RA is one disease or several different diseases with common features” (2009). Rheumatoid arthritis begins when the immune system attacks what is known as the synovium, the lining of the membranes that surround the joints. The inflammation caused by this is what causes the cartilage and bones to deteriorate. There are factors which can cause the onset of rheumatoid arthritis including genetics, environmental factors, and infections.

Tests
There are a few tests that doctors can perform in order to determine a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. However, diagnosis in the early stages can be difficult because the symptoms vary and can act like other diseases. The first test, and the most obvious of choices, is a physical examination. There are several tell tale signs that may indicate the onset of rheumatoid arthritis, including swollen and red joints, joints that are warm to the touch, and reflexes. Blood tests also can be performed to test the sed rate, anti-CCR and the rheumatoid factor. Once a diagnosis has been made, regular blood work is usually performed to check the levels for any changes. X-rays are also a good indicator in determining a diagnosis, but the preferred choice by doctors because they will not show many changes in the beginning. However, doctors will use this method to track changes over time. There is no one specific test that can be performed to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis. Medications

There is no known cure for rheumatoid arthritis, but there are several medications that can be used to help treat the inflammation and slow the progression of the disease. NSAIDS or Non-steroidal Anti-Inflammatory drugs can help relieve pain and inflammation. There are several varieties of over-the-counter...

References: Arthritis Foundation (2009). Rheumatoid Arthritis. Retrieved October 28, 2009, from http://www.arthritis.org
Costenbader, Karen H., and David S. Kountz. (July 2007). "Treatment and management of early RA: a primary care primer.(RAPID: Rheumatoid Arthritis: Primary Care Initiative for Improved Diagnosis and Outcomes)(rheumatoid arthritis)(Disease/Disorder overview)." OBG Management 19.7 : S1(8). Retrieved October 27, 2009, from GeneralOneFile. Gale Powersearch.
Harvard Medical School Health, Harvard Health Publications (2005, February). Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis, 3-5. . Retrieved October 27, 2009, from EBSCOHost database.
Mayo Clinic Staff (2008). Rheumatoid Arthritis. Retrieved October 27, 2009, from http://www.mayoclinic.com
Palmer, Sharon. (August 2007). "Can diet or supplements relieve your arthritis aches and inflammation?." Environmental Nutrition 30.8 Gale. Apollo Library-Univ of Phoenix. 28 Oct. 2009
Watkins, Jean. Update (Sept 1, 2006). "Medicine in pictures Rheumatoid arthritis.(Disease/Disorder overview)." : Gale. Apollo Library-Univ of Phoenix. 27 Oct. 2009
Women 's Health Weekly (Sept 4, 2008). "Researchers discover how rheumatoid arthritis causes bone loss." General OneFile. Gale. Apollo Library-Univ of Phoenix. 27 Oct. 2009
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