The elderly are often the ones who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis which is also known as RA, but this disease is usually diagnosed in middle age and then progresses into our later years causing severe joint pain and swelling. People of any age can be diagnosed with this autoimmune disease, even children. In fact, cases among younger people are actually increasing somewhat.
A common misconception is that RA only strikes the joints, but while this certainly is the most common scenario, other parts of the body can be affected as well. Other targets may include the skin, kidneys, the lungs or other organs. Despite much research, doctors still cannot cure this disorder and they don’t actually know what causes it. RA is theorized to be highly hereditary and people are more likely to acquire rheumatoid arthritis if they have family member who suffers from it. Smokers also have been found to have a much higher risk of developing RA than non-smokers; however some cases of RA are idiopathic, meaning that there is no known cause.
RA symptoms may include swelling in your joints, as well as stiffness and limited movement. Nodules may also be found under your skin, as well. Blood tests are typically prescribed to look at the level of inflammation as well as to identify certain antibodies linked with the disease. Doctors also take x-rays to look for bone loss around the person’s joints. These methods are required to determine the root of the problem and it is advised to seek medical help as soon as possible if symptoms arise.
RA is a chronic disease and also a progressive one that grows worse over time. Sadly at this time a cure has not been found. However, there are a variety of options for treatment that can be given to help patients manage symptoms and even slow progression of the disease. Doctors typically recommend that patients exercise regularly as this seems to lessen the amount of fatigue and increase a person’s strength and even lessen joint pain. This can certainly go a long way in helping slow down the rate of progression of RA.
You can find two types of basic RA treatment today. The first one is usually done with the help of a medicine that relieves the symptoms or reduces the actual inflammation. This method includes the aid of some steroid-based drugs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which are commonly called NSAIDs. With the help of both these drugs, stiffness, pain and swelling can be relieved. However, this type of treatment will only provide general relief.
Targeting and attacking the disease with the aim of putting into a state of remission is the goal of the second type of treatment. Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs or DMARDs are usually what they are called. They slow down progressive joint destruction while at the same time treat arthritis. Methotrexate and sulfasalazube are one of the more common DMARDs. Such medications are also used today for other conditions like cancer or inflammatory bowel disease and provide other benefits like reducing the risk of rejection of a transplanted organ. Both adults and children over the age of four can benefit from Adalimumab which as another type of drug that helps reduce the symptoms of RA. This drug is made from custom monoclonal antibodies. Monoclonal antibody drugs have been used to successfully treat a variety of autoimmune disorders.