Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are obvious some time further down into the disease, these signs are pain in the joints (there are many different patterns indicating different varieties of the rheumatoid condition), stiffness etc. Early symptoms though are fewer and since rheumatoid arthritis is a progressive condition, it is particularly important to diagnose it early so treatment can start in an early stage before the joint linings (synoviums) get too damaged.
We also recommend you check out the recommended mattresses for arthritis.
What This Review Covers
Rheumatory Arthritis Symptoms
A rheumatoid arthritis symptom can be when the synovium (the linings of the joints) becomes flooded by inflammatory cells that consists of neutrophils, macrophages, plasma cells and lymphocytes. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, these cells have a complex and complicated interaction while producing cytokines that are inflammatory. These cytokines and the changes they bring are very destructive to the joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic disease that affects many parts of the body, the joints are the most affected parts, but symptoms are also common in eyes or lungs.
RA, or rheumatoid arthritis, causes pain, stiffness and swelling of the joints and this chronic disease is very damaging to the function of all joints.
Diagnosing Rheumatoid Arthritis
Morning stiffness is something very common in patients affected with rheumatoid arthritis. The stiffness can last up to a couple of hours each morning or even the whole day in bad cases. Among the different arthritic conditions, this is a very typical symptom of rheumatoid arthritis which means it is a good marker when trying to diagnose the disease or its symptoms. RA has other typical signs such as the fact that hands and feet are often affected more than other larger joints.
In order to arrive at a diagnosis or rheumatoid arthritis (RA), there should be signs of smaller joints swelling up (hands, feet) and it is also possible to use a rheuma test to measure the rheumatoid factor which is a significant marker in around 80% affected patients. It is possible to find a rheumatoid factor in people of normal health as well – it has been noticed that this is the case in up to one of twenty of the healthy population. This means there is a 20% rate of rheumatoid arthritis when the factor is found. The rheumatoid factor is normally only measured in the case where the patient has signs of swollen joints. It is also possible to use X-Ray on feet and hand joints to diagnose the condition, but only on patients with at least 6 months of disease history. This may give precise and correct information that can help in diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Causes
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, which means that it is a malfunction in the immune system in where it turns on itself in an erroneous attack on what it believes is disease attack. When the immune system acts on this false information, it starts to attack healthy joints by sending out inflammatory substances which it believes will kill the threat. Unfortunately, this will instead cause a lot of damage to the joints and the cartilage and finally also to the bone. Joints will swell up and eventually there will be very large damage if nothing is done.
The new TNF blockers (Tumor Necrosis Factor) are recently developed rheumatoid arthritis medicines that are very promising. These are constructed to intercept the signals from the immune system to the joints which is what causes rheumatoid arthritis symptoms in the first place. This science is still very new and there is a lot we don’t know, such as the influence of heredity and environment, predispositions etc – further research is necessary to establish this.
Simplifying Life With Rheumatoid Arthritis
When it comes to daily living with RA, things can be done in different ways and it is wise to try and look for the easy way so you put less strain on your joints.
One example is to try and spread the load over more joints to reduce the amount of load on each involved joint. If you can minimize the amount of grasping, you can minimize the load on your hands. Use shoulders and elbows, palms as well if you can – everywhere you can instead of using the fingers. To save the load on hands and fingers, make sure your doors have lever handles instead of door knobs. For opening cupboards and similar, tie a piece of string to the handle, make a loop. Then when opening the cupboard, put your arm through the loop and pull open. When cleaning, try to use a sponge wherever you can instead or a rag as it is easier to control a sponge with your palm only. When closing doors and drawers, use your body – hip is fine – to close. If you use a heat shielding mug for coffee and tea, you can grip it with both hands (palms) rather than putting your fingers into the handle. When carrying a plate – put both hands (palms again) underneath it, instead of gripping it. When you carry bags and objects, hold them close to your body and use both hands (arms) to hold them tight – don’t use handles.
Anti inflammatory drugs can be used for treating arthritis. While anti inflammatory drugs can be a good cure for many patients, there may also be some side effects. These drugs should only be used if prescribed by a knowledgeable doctor. What anti-inflammatory medicines do is to block the effects of prostaglandins which is good from the point of blocking off the inflammation but there are also some potential side-effects.
Anti-inflammatory steroids (glucocorticoids) are very powerful inflammation inhibitors and can be of great help when used in the right manner. But as with many other drugs, there are side effects. Anti malarial medication was found potent as a treatment of arthritis as well and some of the well known types of these medications are hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine which are often used to treat less severe arthritis.
Sulfasalazine, is one of the disease-modifying drugs, a very potent one used to treat many different versions of inflammatory arthritis and this medicine is more common in Europe than it is in the US. In the same group (DMARD’s), Methotrexate is often used for the treatment of more sinister types of inflammatory rheumatoid arthritis. This drug uses blocking of metabolism of any rapidly dividing cells as inhibitor. In a similar way, Azathioprine, another DMARD, will also be effective a disease-modifier in difficult cases of inflammatory arthritis.
Leflunomide is yet another of the metabolism blockers used for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. It has been largely replaced by the new biologic but it is still a potent medication.
Cyclosporine is another of the disease modifying medicines used in the treatment of arthritis. This drug came originally from the organ transplant world and is very effective but due to the levels of toxicity, it has only limited use. Normally combined with methotrexate for best effect of treatment.
- Osteoarthritis, is one of the more common arthritis types, it is a degenerative disease affecting the joints. The immune system starts to destroy the cartilage that covers the bone ends in the joints and this causes both much pain and flexibility reduction when bone ends get in direct contact.
- Ankylosing spondylitis is when the bones in the spine grow together following an inflammation.
- Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition. It usually affect joints in hands and feet first and this arthritis is one of the most difficult conditions, often affecting female patients.
- Gout, is a common male problem and less common in females. Gout also attacks the smaller joints, just a rheumatoid arthritis but it has its own peculiarity in that it often affects the big toe. There is modern medicines that can handle gout and a dietary approach is also often helpful
Can The Mattress You Sleep On Change Your Arthritis?
The short answer to that is Yes. The way we sleep affects the body contouring and comfort. There are mattresses that have been designed to specifically offer that special pamper and pain relief. Please check some of the best mattress for arthritis over here.