Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a disease around which many myths have arisen. In this article we will try to explain what is truth and what is fiction.
- What symptoms might rheumatoid arthritis suggest?
- Why is early detection of rheumatoid arthritis important?
- What is important in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic, immune-mediated inflammatory disease of connective tissue that affects the entire body, not just the joints, as the name might suggest. Connective tissue is one of the basic tissues of the human body that is found in every organ. Rheumatoid arthritis most often occurs in young people between the ages of 30 and 50, especially in women (the disease is four times more common in them than in men). Although in reality you can get it at any age. There are even individual cases of the disease among young adults and adolescents.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease of unknown etiology. It is presumed to be influenced by genetic factors (family history of RA) and bacterial and viral infections, which may lead to an inflammatory response. Smoking is an important factor in the development of arthritis
It is estimated that about 300,000 people may have rheumatoid arthritis. persons, but this number may be underestimated due to the very long diagnosis time.
With proper treatment, people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can work and live normal, active lives. The condition is early diagnosis and implementation of appropriate and effective treatment. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. It is estimated that about 20-30 percent. Patients are not effectively treated. There are many causes, one of which is late diagnosis, which is the result of your doctor reporting your symptoms too late and delaying the start of appropriate treatment for too long.
What symptoms might rheumatoid arthritis suggest?
Because rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that affects the entire body, symptoms can vary widely.
You should see a doctor as soon as the first symptoms of the disease appear, such as: Joint pain during pressure, swelling of the joint and surrounding tissues, as well as joint effusion – explains the professor. Brygida Kwiatkowska, rheumatologist, head of the early arthritis clinic at the National Institute of Geriatrics, Rheumatology and Rehabilitation in Warsaw, adds: – These diseases may be accompanied by low-grade fever, muscle aches, fatigue, loss of appetite and weight loss.
The joints that the disease attacks are often symmetrical, especially the joints around the hands and feet without redness of the skin.
According to the professor. Kwiatkowska, the decisive factor is the first 12 weeks of onset of symptoms, because treatment should begin during this period. Doctors call this the treatment window, the period when starting treatment gives the best chance of stopping the disease.
What other symptoms may indicate rheumatoid arthritis? In this disease different types of extra-articular symptoms are observed, related to:
In short, RA may include:
- Morning joint stiffness lasting more than 60 minutes
- symmetric inflammation of three or more joints at the same time,
- rheumatic nodules,
- Pain at rest that goes away with a simple exercise (getting up).
The final diagnosis is made by a rheumatologist who orders laboratory blood tests (ESR and CRP levels), as well as ultrasound tests if necessary.
Why is early detection of rheumatoid arthritis important?
Early initiation of treatment may determine the effectiveness of treatment for the disease throughout the patient’s life. The later the medication is started, the worse the prognosis, the more difficult it will be to lead a normal and active life – explains the professor. Kwiatkowska.
Many people fear treating rheumatoid arthritis because of the popular myth about the toxicity of the drugs used. Unnecessarily. New drugs available on the market are distinguished by better tolerability and a more favorable profile to side effects than those of the older generation, in addition, they do not require the use of additional prophylactic drugs. Thus, gastrointestinal side effects are no longer an integral part of treatment.
It must be emphasized that rheumatoid arthritis is an incurable disease, but that controlling it with medication can improve patients’ quality of life and prevent them from disability. This is really important because according to a survey conducted by Dr. Tomas Sobierajski, a sociologist from the University of Warsaw, published a report titled “Every day has rheumatoid arthritis. Knowledge, attitudes and psychosocial experiences of people with rheumatoid arthritis”, nearly three-quarters of patients may experience pain and fatigue in daily life, 68% complain of annoying limited fitness, and 46 percent. Unable to perform routine activities.
Every second person examined has been reported with rheumatoid arthritis Depressive symptoms 69 percent indicated depressed mood, and 54 percent. Anxiety and anxiety states – Dr. Sobierajski explains and adds that patients fear whether they are able to lead an independent life. They are afraid to withdraw from family, social and professional life.
What is important in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis?
a. Kwiatkowska acknowledged that the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis should be comprehensive and that other comorbidities should also be treated, such as heart and respiratory diseases, as well as anxiety and depression, as well as cancer and diabetes.
For the treatment to be effective, the patient must cooperate with the doctor, follow the recommendations, and make joint decisions about the choice of treatment. If the treatment is not effective, it should be changed to another treatment with a different mechanism of action.
It is also worth changing your lifestyle, eating right and quitting smoking, which aggravate the course of rheumatoid arthritis.
Source: PAP Zbigniew Wojtasiński / “Zdrowa ONA” press material
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