Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis woman

Last Updated August 23rd, 2019

The most fundamental fact about rheumatoid arthritis is that it is an autoimmune condition, aka, it arises as a result of your body’s immune system attacking the healthy cells. Secondly, it is not a rare condition. RA affects more than 1.5 million people in the USA alone. Also, it has been observed that women develop RA more than men (3x times more!). This condition is not localized to a particular joint (unlike osteoarthritis), but is spread throughout the body.
Though RA doesn’t get passed on from parents to offspring everytime, having parent(s) with this autoimmune condition does increase the risk of developing the condition in the child. There are certain genes which influence the autoimmune processes within the body. These are - HLA, STAT4, PTPN22, etc.The presence of these can not only increase the risk of RA but also that of other autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis.
Foods to eat in RA - Anti-inflammatory foods such as - fatty fish, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, olive oil. Foods to avoid in RA - Inflammatory foods such as - refined sugar, salt, processed junk, vegetable oil, alcohol, caffeine, tobacco etc.

Overview

Several diseases of the joints and bones occur at the onset of old age due to natural degeneration of the musculoskeletal system. Arthritis is a very common disorder after the age of 60 and affects men and women equally. According to statistics produced by the Arthritis Foundation, United States, nearly 350 million people suffer from arthritic conditions all over the world. A very common form of arthritis that affects mainly aged women is rheumatoid arthritis. The occurrence of rheumatoid arthritis is 1.06% in women and 0.6% in men. Recent research findings reveal that nearly 3,00,000 children have been diagnosed with juvenile arthritis in the past year, and many rheumatoid arthritis cases were reported among them. Thus clearly, Rheumatoid Arthritis is becoming a major cause of productivity and performance loss.

 

What is rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid Arthritis xrayRheumatoid arthritis is a systemic inflammatory disease which symmetrically affects the small bones and joints of the hand and feet. It is basically an auto-immune disease and produces systemic, articular and extra-articular effects. The reason rheumatoid arthritis is called “systemic” is if one knee gets affected with the disease the other knee starts showing similar symptoms as well. Inflammation, swellin, and stiffness of multiple joints (mainly the synovial joints) result in this conditions. This disease is usually incurable and the symptoms worsen with age. Rheumatoid arthritis typically peaks between the age of 40-50 and is at present one of the leading causes of disability on a global scale.

 

Difference between rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis

Very often people get confused between the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, which may lead to misdiagnosis and improper treatment. The main difference is that osteoarthritis is the progressive erosion of the joints, while rheumatoid arthritis is the inflammation of the lining of the joints.

 

Pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis

The main pathological condition that leads to rheumatoid arthritis is the inflammation and thickening of the synovial membrane, caused due to autoimmune conditions. The synovial membrane becomes infested with inflammatory cells which causes joint pain and swelling. The vascular tissue (pannus) present in the synovial lining expands over the cartilage. Subsequent erosion of the articular cartilage and underlying bone occurs due to the presence of macrophages and osteoclasts (causes bone degeneration or resorption). Local inflammation is caused by two main immunoglobulin components synthesized by plasma cells in the subsynovium. Rheumatoid nodules form in the advanced stages and are surrounded by macrophages, fibroblasts, lymphocytes and plasma cells. Granuloma formation may also occur on the surface of pleura, endocardial valves, and pericardium.

The primary causes of pain in rheumatoid arthritis are-

  • Irritation of nerve endings due to chemicals produced by inflammatory cells
  • Excessive stretching of the capsules due to joint swelling

 

Joints affected

The joints primarily affected by rheumatoid arthritis are listed below-

  • Cervical spine: It can cause neck pain, stiffness, paraesthesiae or sensory changes.
  • Hands and wrists: Flexion contractures and ulnar deviation of fingers are observed.
  • Feet and ankles: Metatarso-phalangeal joints, talonavicular, subtalar and avicular joints are affected.
  • Shoulders: Inflammation of rotator cuffs occurs.
  • Elbows: Stiffness occurs.
  • Hips: Progressive loss of internal rotation occurs.
  • Knees
  • Temporomandibular joints: Pain, tenderness, and swelling occurs

 

Causes of rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis womanRheumatoid arthritis occurs due to multiple etiological factors which are described below-

  • Autoimmune diseases which cause a destruction of the joints and bones
  • The release of harmful chemicals such as cytokines (due to inflammatory response or existing pathological conditions) which directly affects the linings joints
  • Natural degeneration and weakening of body muscles and joints with age
  • Obesity or overweight conditions causing increased load on the knee
  • Joint inflammation due to rigorous physical activities or mechanical injury
  • Cigarette smoking can increase risks of joint damage
  • Diet deficient in Vitamin D
  • Accidental bending and twisting causing injured joints
  • Existing joint diseases such as gout, osteoarthritis or septic arthritis
  • Lifting excessively heavy loads
  • Genetic disorders causing degeneration of synovial tissues (mediated by Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase 22 gene)
  • Inflammation evoking food items such as artificial fats, processed meat, refined carbohydrates and alcohol
  • Toxicity due to chemicals present in the environment can affect the joints
  • Incorrect body postures

 

Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is manifested through the following symptoms-

  • Morning stiffness and joint pain lasting for more than 1 hour
  • Swelling of soft tissues of multiple joints
  • Symmetric joint swelling
  • Extreme tenderness and touch sensitivity of joints
  • Redness around the joint area
  • Erosion and decalcification (loss of calcium content) of joints in advanced stages
  • Formation of nodules in elbows and knees (rheumatoid nodules)
  • Fever and nausea
  • Extreme fatigue
  • General body weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Profuse sweating and few other flu-like symptoms
  • Anaemia
  • Dryness of eyes and mouth
  • Weight loss
  • Pain radiating to neighbouring regions (back)
  • Bone and joint deformities (at an advanced stage)
  • Throbbing pain in the joint and muscles after some activity
  • Joint pain during slight movements of hand and legs
  • Difficulty performing mundane activities such as walking, running or climbing stairs

 

Types of rheumatoid Arthritis

The International Classification of rheumatoid Arthritis is given below-

  • Seropositive rheumatoid Arthritis: It includes all categories of rheumatoid arthritis except arthritis of the spine and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Felty’s syndrome: It is characterized by splenoadenomegaly and leukopenia.
  • Rheumatoid vasculitis: It is characterized by inflammation of the blood vessels.

 

Diagnosis

The following diagnostic tests are carried out to determine the cause and degree of rheumatoid Arthritis-

  • X-rays (to detect joint inflammation or cartilage destruction)
  • MRI scan (to examine joint injury if any)
  • Synovial fluid analysis ( to look for inflammatory cells)

 

Treatment and prevention

Rheumatoid Arthritis manTreatment

Medication 

  • Over-the-counter NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can help in relieving pain and reducing inflammation. In case, OTC (over-the-counter) medications do not have much effect on the patient, stronger NSAIDs are prescribed by the doctor.
  • Medications to reduce joint pains, inflammation and joint degeneration are provided.
  • Certain medications can aid in reducing the progression of rheumatoid arthritis along with reducing degeneration of the surrounding tissues.
  • Medications that can target the part of the immune system that causes inflammation are called biological agents. These medications are prescribed to those who have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

Therapy – Here the patient will have to undergo physiotherapy and occupational therapy. These therapies help the patient by reducing pain and by learning ways to manage their day-to-day activities with moderate to less pain.

Surgery 

  • Synovectomy – This surgery is performed on the knees, elbows, fingers, and hips to remove the inflamed lining of the joints.
  • Tendon repair – This surgery is done to repair the tendons around the inflamed joints.
  • Joint fusion – When the patient is unable to undergo a joint replacement, their joints are realigned to help bring back balance and reducing their pain.
  • Total joint replacement – Here the damaged joint is replaced with a prosthetic joint made of metal or plastic.

Low FODMAP diet for rheumatoid arthritis

Consuming high FODMAP foods cause common gastrointestinal problems such as bloating, gas, constipation, and diarrhea. This is because it is difficult for the gut enzymes to break these foods down and digest it, causing the intestines to bloat and absorb water while releasing gases such as carbohydrate, hydrogen and methane.

FODMAP stands for:

F – Fermentable. 

O – Oligosaccharides.

D – Disaccharides.

M – Monosaccharides.

A – and

P – Polysaccharides.

According to certain studies foods such as red meat (chorizo), wheat bread, barley induced flour, rye, sausages, milk products such as cow milk, goat milk etc. which are high in FODMAPs, can increase the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Foods such as walnuts, tuna, salmon, baby spinach, kale etc. consist of low FODMAPs, and are said to help reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Following a low FODMAP diet can help reduce consumption of artificially sweetened foods and fats. Consuming a low FODMAP diet can help in relieving the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Prevention – Since there are no sure shot prevention methods, there are certain risk factors that can help in maintaining the condition.

  • Exposure to certain harmful minerals such as silica and or asbestos may increase the chances of developing arthritis.
  • Those who are overweight seem to be at a higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. This is why it is important to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Cigarettes tend to contain nicotine, which has bone degenerative properties, which is why it is important that people do not smoke. If they do smoke, then quitting is the best option for a healthier lifestyle.
  • Knowing your family history is necessary to understand the chances of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

Facts

  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can be diagnosed in people of any age. It is not a disease that is found only among the elderly.
  • Though osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis both affect the joints and cause pain, they are not the same. That is because they have different causes.

Facts

  • 3 million people in the USA have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

Facts

  • Those who live on a higher altitude (within ages of 15-30 years) tend to have a higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

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The most fundamental fact about rheumatoid arthritis is that it is an autoimmune condition, aka, it arises as a result of your body’s immune system attacking the healthy cells. Secondly, it is not a rare condition. RA affects more than 1.5 million people in the USA alone. Also, it has been observed that women develop RA more than men (3x times more!). This condition is not localized to a particular joint (unlike osteoarthritis), but is spread throughout the body.
Though RA doesn’t get passed on from parents to offspring everytime, having parent(s) with this autoimmune condition does increase the risk of developing the condition in the child. There are certain genes which influence the autoimmune processes within the body. These are - HLA, STAT4, PTPN22, etc.The presence of these can not only increase the risk of RA but also that of other autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis.
Foods to eat in RA - Anti-inflammatory foods such as - fatty fish, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, olive oil. Foods to avoid in RA - Inflammatory foods such as - refined sugar, salt, processed junk, vegetable oil, alcohol, caffeine, tobacco etc.

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Exercise regularly. This helps in making sure that the joints are not stiff.
  • Soak the affected joints in warm water.
  • Partake in water-based exercises as they help in blinding up muscle strength and aid in easing the pain.
Don'ts
  • Lift anything that is heavy, including weights. This could make the pain worse.
  • Make any sudden movements; this can increase the symptoms of arthritis.
  • Forget to take your medications on time or delay going for physiotherapy.

 

 

 

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Top reasons why you should go for a reflexology massage today Reflexology involves the application of pressure to your feet and hands to encourage self-healing. Could this be beneficial…
ANTI-MICROSOMAL-ANTIBODY-(AMA)
Anti-Microsomal Antibody AMA Test AMA or anti-microsomal antibody test is a blood test that measures the activity of AMA in the body…
Hysteroscopy_procedure
Hysteroscopy Hysteroscopy is a minimally invasive tool to help specialists view the uterus to diagnose and even treat several…
myelogram
Myelography Myelography is an important diagnostic tool that is used to investigate and identify abnormalities in the spine and…
anoscopy
Anoscopy Anoscopy is an invasive diagnostic procedure where a small device known as anoscope will be inserted in the…
cystatin C
Cystatin C Test Cystatin C is a specific single-chain protein that is found in body fluids and is a biomarker for…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…
Jicama: A fiber-rich tuber for your weight loss goals Pronouced as HEE-kah-ma, Jicama is the "new kid on the block" that has taken the world by the…
xylitol gum
Xylitol : Is this the right sugar substitute for you? Discovered during World War 2 owing to sugar shortage, xylitol has become a common name in pharamaceutical industry.…
Tissue Transglutaminase Antibody (tTG) Test Transglutaminase is an enzyme present in our body and is involved in protein metabolism. A tTg test is…
thyroid_scan
Thyroid Scan Thyroid scan is a diagnostic procedure that aims to view the thyroid gland and detect any growths or…
dhea adrenal
Androstenedione Test Androstenedione is produced by the adrenal gland, the test of the levels of Androstenedione helps in the evaluation…
hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…
Salt dangers
Sodium chloride: The wonders and dangers of the simple table salt Sodium chloride is a salt containing sodium and chlorine ions at a 1:1 ratio. It is edible and…
The right way to prepare Alfalfa sprouts at home Alfalfa or lusan ghas is not just a nutritious animal fodder. This flavonoid-rich herb has some amazing health…
Is bronchitis contagious? And how to prevent this infection? It is acute bronchitis that is contagious which means you can contract it from another person or you…
11 unbelievable health benefits of thyme you didn’t know! Thyme is a herb that has been used in alternative medicine.It is a well known seasoning in the…
arterial-blood-gas
Arterial Blood Gas Analysis Arterial blood gas analysis is a diagnostic procedure used to determine the volume of oxygen and carbon dioxide…
hepatitis B envelope antigen
Hepatitis B Envelope Antigen (HBeAg) The HBeAg or hepatitis B envelope antigen test is a screening test used to diagnose the onset of…
Agave nectar: The bitter truth about this sweetener revealed Agave nectar is considered to be sweeter than the normal table sugar and even contains higher amounts of…
Kava: Is it the healthy substitute for alcohol you have been waiting for? Native to the beautiful South Pacific islands, Kava is a famous beverage rooted in the local culture. It…
Find all the instant ways to get rid of blackheads Blackheads - Not only are they aesthetically unappealing but if left untreated these can cause bacterial overgrowth on…
Tattoo Aftercare: The best practices to follow once you get inked Planning getting permanently inked? Make sure you follow these critical tattoo aftercare techniques to avoid infectious agents attacking…
Inversion Therapy: The anti-gravity way of healing chronic back pain Inversion therapy involves suspending a person upside dow using different types of equipment. This works by taking the…
Barium-enema
Barium Enema Barium enema is also known as colon x-ray. Here, the patient is asked to consume small amount of…
complement c4 test
Anemia Profile Anemia Profile test (Basic) is a blood screening test that measures the levels of important components of the…
blood ketone test
Blood Ketone (D3HB) Test The Blood Ketone Test measures and monitors the levels of ketone in the blood which is usually performed…
immunoglobulin M
Immunoglobulin M Test Immunoglobulin M is the largest and the first produced antibody which helps in the prevention or fighting of…
macadamia nuts in food
Proven health benefits and nutrition of macadamia nuts Know all about scientific, amazing health benefits of macadamia nuts, its nutrition, recipes, how to consume, price and…
macadamia nuts in food
Proven health benefits and nutrition of macadamia nuts Know all about scientific, amazing health benefits of macadamia nuts, its nutrition, recipes, how to consume, price and…
sugar toxic health
Sugar: 7 new shocking truths revealed about the sweet poison Can drinking soda bring you closer to death? Is sugar slowly poisoning you and your family? You would…
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
L-theanine attention
L-Theanine: Better sleep, higher focus, and many other benefits Did you know that L-theanine found in green tea can make you sleep better and be focused at…
avocado benefits
Avocado: 15 reasons why this fruit should be a staple in your diet Did you know that the word avocado literally means "testicles". Don't get grossed out as this power-packed fruit…
kefir bottle
Kefir: Top reasons why this probiotic drink should be consumed by you Yet another remarkable fermented food, kefir is a much healthier version of yogurt. These chewy white grains can…
Beware of these common foods that cause high bodily inflammation! Maybe its the long list of inflammatory foods in your diet that is making you frequently sick. Find…
The complete “what to eat” guide for gluten intolerance Does eating breads and pastas often makes you nauseous? Gluten intolerance is a common reason why you might…
How to correctly perform nasal irrigation using a Neti Pot? Neti pot has been a part of Ayurveda since centuries. This ancient tool is extremely effective in treating…
Pescatarian Diet 101: What are the inherent health advantages of this diet? People opt to become a pescatarian in order to enrich their bodies with the essential health benefits that…
Oxidative Stress: Understanding the most lethal phenomenon happening in your body right now Free radicals cause damage to the body, which is known as oxidation.  The amount of oxidation caused by…
bradycardia fainting
What does hypoglycemia look like when you don’t have diabetes? Hypoglycemia is not just a disease that co-occurs with diabetes. Non-diabetics could also become hypoglycemic. Hypoglycemia can be…
Internal bleeding brain
Beware: Ignoring these tell-tale signs of stroke could cost a life The signs and symptoms of a stroke differ depending on which part of the brain has been affected.…
Bubble Tea: Bubbling with nutrition or a hidden sugar mine? The tapioca pearls present in the tea looks like bubbles and hence the name bubble tea became popular.…
GGt test
GGT – Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase Test GGT or gammaglutamyl transferase test is a liver function test that is used to detect the extent of…
EEG
Electroencephalogram – EEG EEG or electroencephalogram is a diagnostic tool used to access the functioning of neurons and brain activity to…
vdrl test syphilis
VDRL Test The VDRL test is a blood test that is used to diagnose sexually transmitted or venereal diseases, primarily…
Tachycardia heart
Cardiac Profile Cardiac profile is panel of blood tests performed to check cholesterol level and other heart disease markers to…
Okra: How can this nutrient-dense vegetable help you fight diabetes? Okra is a food which is rich in nutrients and minerals which are extremely essential for a healthy…
shoudler exercises
Keep your shoulders pain-free with these shoulder exercises Shoulder exercises are important in order to prevent chronic back and neck pain. Learn more about how you…