Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
What is RA?
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic, progressive and disabling autoimmune disease affecting 1% of the world adult population.
It affects approximately 3 times more women than men and onset is generally between 40 – 60 years of age.
Any joint may be affected but it is commonly the hands, feet and wrists.
What is the cause of RA?
The cause of RA is unknown.
How does it present?
The major manifestations of RA are: joint swelling, joint pain, morning joint stiffness of more than 30 minutes, fatigue, and feeling of having flu like symptoms.
Can other systems be involved in RA?
Yes other systems can be involved and this includes: dry eyes, anaemia, ischemic heart disease, skin nodules, and lung fibrosis.
How is rheumatoid arthritis managed?
There are a wide variety of non-pharmacologic therapies available. Education and counseling can help you to better understand the nature of RA and cope with the challenges of this condition. Programs on topics such as self-management skills, social support, and psychotherapy can be helpful. Regular exercise can help prevent and reverse pain and fatigue symptoms. Physical therapy can relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and help preserve joint structure and function.
Rheumatoid arthritis causes bone loss, which can lead to osteoporosis. Bone loss is more likely in people who are inactive. The use of glucocorticoids further increases the risk of bone loss. Consume an adequate amount of calcium (1000 to 1500 mg/day) and vitamin D (400 to 800 IU/day), either in the diet or by taking supplements will minimize the risk of osteoporosis.
Several classes of drugs are used to treat Ra: non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), and biologic response modifiers.
What are the goals of therapy?
- To relieve symptoms including fatigue, pain, swelling and stiffness
- To Prevent joint destruction, loss of joint function, deformity and disability
- Achieve clinical remission
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