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RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease that causes inflammation (swelling, redness and hotness) of joints. The inflammation can become so severe that it may compromise function as well as it may produce deformities of the joints. Women are affected more than man. Lumps, known as rheumatoid nodules, form over small joints in the hands and wrist. RA occurring in children 16 yrs or younger is known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA)

Cause: The exact cause is unknown. RA is an autoimmune disease which means body owns immune mechanism attacks its own healthy tissue. The response of the body causes inflammation in and around the joints.

Symptoms

  • Pain
  • Morning stiffness
  • Joint inflammation: joints of hand are affected more, symmetrically involved
  • Lump over joints
  • Decreased movement
  • Joint deformity
  • Fever
  • Weight loss

Diagnosis

Diagnosis made by combining symptoms, laboratory and imaging features.

  • Radiography: X-ray
  • Joint aspiration
  • Lab studies:
  • ESR, CRP, CBC
  • Rheumatoid factor (RF) assay
  • Antinuclear antibody (ANA) assay

Complications

  • Anemia
  • Increased risk of infection
  • Osteoporosis
  • Heart disease
  • Sjogren syndrome
  • Lung disease
  • Peripheral neuropathies

Treatment

It may include:

  • Medications: Drugs like NSAIDs(pain killer), methotrexate, corticosteroids (prednisolone, methylprednisolone), anti TNF therapy
  • Surgery: to correct deformity
  • Physiotherapy