Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes discomfort and damage to joints all over the body.
The damage caused by RA to the joints normally occurs on both sides of the body.
So, if a joint in one of your arms or legs is afflicted, the identical joint in the other arm or leg is likely to be impacted as well. One method doctor distinguishes RA from other types of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis (OA), is by this.
Treatments work best when RA is detected early, therefore it’s crucial to recognize the symptoms. Continue reading to learn everything you need to know about RA, from its causes and symptoms to home remedies, diets, and other therapies.
Signs and symptoms:
There are times when symptoms worsen, known as flares, and times when they improve, known as remissions, in RA.
Following are the signs and symptoms of RA
- Pain and stiffness in more than one joint
- Swelling in more than one joint
- The symptoms are the same on both sides of the body (such as in both hands or both knees)
- Loss of weight
- Tiredness or fatigue
RA is caused by the body’s immune system attacking its own healthy cells as part of an immunological response. Although the exact etiology of RA is unknown, many variables can raise the likelihood of having the condition.
The following factors may raise your risk of developing RA:
- being a woman
- having a RA family history
The following factors may contribute to the onset of RA:
- exposure to specific types of bacteria, such as those linked to periodontitis
- having a history of viral infections, such as the mononucleosis-causing Epstein-Barr virus
- Bone breaking or fracture, joint dislocation, and ligament damage are all examples of trauma or injury.
- cigarette smoking
- having a problem with obesity
RA is diagnosed through an evaluation of symptoms, a physical examination, and the use of X-rays and lab tests. It’s best to diagnose RA early—within 6 months of the onset of symptoms—so that patients can start medication to halt or stop the disease’s progression (for example, damage to joints). Diagnosis and successful treatments, particularly those that suppress or manage inflammation, can assist to mitigate RA’s harmful effects.
Blood tests for RA
Your healthcare physician or rheumatologist can use a variety of blood tests to assess whether you have RA. These tests include the following:
Rheumatoid factor test
The RF blood test looks for rheumatoid factor, a protein that causes arthritis. Autoimmune illnesses, including RA, are linked to high levels of rheumatoid factor.
Erythrocyte sedimentation rate
The ESR test is used to detect how much inflammation is present in your body. Your doctor will be able to detect if inflammation is present based on the results. It does not, however, reveal the etiology of the inflammation.
C-reactive protein test
C-reactive protein is produced by your liver in response to a severe illness or considerable inflammation anywhere in your body. RA is linked to high levels of this inflammatory marker.
Anticitrullinated protein antibody test (anti-CCP).
This test checks for an antibody linked to rheumatoid arthritis. People who carry this antibody are more likely to get the disease. This antibody, however, is not seen in everyone with RA. The anti-CCP Ab test is more accurate in detecting RA than the RF test.
Medication(s) and self-management measures can effectively treat and manage RA. Disease-modifying antirheumatic medicines (DMARDs) are commonly used to treat RA, while biological response modifiers (biologicals) are medications that are an effective second-line treatment. People with RA can manage their condition with self-management measures that have been shown to lessen pain and impairment, allowing them to pursue the activities that are essential to them.