Jun 15, 2014
• Rheumatoid arthritis is the second commonest form of arthritis to afflict human kind, the commonest being osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid typically affects the small joints of your hands and feet, while osteo tends to affect the larger joints like your hips or knees.
• Rheumatoid is four times commoner in women than it is in men.
• At any time rheumatoid arthritis will affect 1 – 3% of the population.
• It can strike at any age but its peak incidence is between the ages of 30 and 50 years.
Cause of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA):
The exact cause of rheumatoid is unknown. It falls into that category of diseases called autoimmune disease. That is to say it is a situation where ones immune system turns in on itself and fails to recognise the bodies own tissue as friendly and non-invasive. In this case ones own immune system attacks the lining and synovial membranes of the small joints of hands and feet. If this goes on unchecked for long enough, rheumatoid arthritis will eventually destroy these joints altogether.
RA has a weak familial or genetic tendency and certain genes have been identified as being associated with it.
How is RA diagnosed?
• Clinical presentation. The diagnosis of RA is usually not difficult. It often has a sudden onset with fiver, malaise and of course small joint pain. It tends to be remitting with ups and downs, good days and bad days. It may even disappear altogether for months or years.
• There is a blood test called the RH factor and another blood test called ESR that can be used to confirm the clinical impression of the disease’s presence. Nether of these tests however are disease specific. A newer blood test called CCP or cyclic citrullinated peptide is now considered the most specific test for RA..
The most important message that I want you to take away from this is that early diagnosis is essential to avoid irreparable joint damage. Therefore, if you suddenly start to suffer for joint pains of the hands or feet go to a doctor and get this diagnosed immediately. There is no time to waste.
The Treatment of Rheumatoid arthritis.
The treatment of rheumatoid arthritis today is a specialist subject best carried out by a consultant Rheumatologist. All treatments are designed to arrest and to control the destructive joint inflammatory process in order to maintain the integrity of those joints.
It should also be noted here that the management of this once cruel and debilitating disease has come on in quantum leaps in the last decade. In almost every case today it should be possible, with modern medication, to stop the progress of this disease in its tracks and to offset its joint destructing potential.
If you are worried that you may be developing rheumatoid arthritis then we are here to help and support you. Please contact us and we will do our best to help.