Rheumatoid arthritis is a disorder where a person’s immune system attacks their joints, causing them to become inflamed. What are the early signs of this condition?
RA affects small and large joints in arms and legs in a symmetrical distribution
RA results from a problem with the immune system. When a person’s immune system is healthy, it helps to fight infection. In people with RA, the immune system mistakenly attacks the cells in the lining of their joint, resulting in inflammation of the joints, making them swollen, stiff, and painful.
People who have RA will have some periods where they experience no symptoms and other times when the symptoms flare up.
Currently, there is no cure for RA, but proper treatment and moderate exercise may help reduce flares. If RA is left untreated, the joints, cartilage, and bones in affected areas can become damaged.
The symptoms progress over a period of time, within weeks or even some months when actual joint swellings become visible along with increasing stiffness and pains. According to , Senior Rheumatologist, “approximately 1 in 100 people may be suffering from RA in the community. The condition usually occurs in people between 20 years to 60 years of age.”
He says, “RA affects small and large joints in the arms and the legs in a symmetrical distribution (on both sides of the body).This is in contrast to the other very common joint disease (of elderly persons) called osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis usually begins at a later age and most commonly affects one knee and then the other knee over time. RA is 5 times more common in women than men.”
The exact cause of RA is not known. However, it is well understood that the synovial tissue (the inner lining) of the joints become inflamed due to an autoimmune response (the immune system of the body becomes imbalanced and starts self-attack). The cause of the autoimmune response is multifactorial including certain genetic risk factors and several environmental factors including smoking, poor oro-dental hygiene. There are several additional risk factors that enhance the possibility of a poor treatment outcome in RA. These include obesity, lack of regular exercise and imbalanced diet. Eating plenty of fruits, green vegetables, and a balanced high-fibre diet helps in the control of RA.