Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease with an inflammatory nature.
It causes changes in the immune response resulting in pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints, leading to joint erosion.
It commonly affects the hands, wrists and feet, although it can also affect larger joints such as the shoulders and hips.
The Rheumatoid Factor blood test can determine if you have this condition but it may give a negative reading in the beginning of the disease process. Therefore your doctor may also test you for anti-CCP (anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody) as this test is more useful in the early stages.
Other tests your doctor may perform include ANA (anti nuclear antibody), HLA typing which looks at certain genes, which make a person pre disposed to arthritis and inflammatory markers such as CRP (C-reactive protein) and ESR (erythrocyte sediment rate).
Here is what we know about Rheumatoid arthritis:
RA joint pain is often experience on both side of the body. For example both hands, both feet.
Carpel tunnel syndrome is a symptom of RA. This is where the hands tingle and you can experience pain in your forearms, it is often worse at night.
Bakers Cysts, which are fluid filled sacs, can develop behind the knee.
Inflammatory signs such as joint redness, tenderness and swelling are experienced.
Fatigue is common.
Like Lupus disease activity can come and go.
It can start at any age and affects both males and females although it is more common in females.
Juvenile arthritis is a much more serious condition as it affects the child’s growth and development.
The pain is worse in the morning on waking and it takes a long time to subside.
Rheumatoid nodules can appear on the fingers, elbows, knees and hands. These are growths, which are hard to touch, and are near an inflamed joint, blistering around the fingernails can also be experienced.
Causes of RA include- infections such as helicobacter pylori or mycoplasma, food allergy or food intolerance, genetic predisposition, environmental factors such as smoking, stress and environmental toxins and the Epstein barr virus.
Over 40% of rheumatic patients experience Raynaud’s syndrome.
Rheumatoid arthritis can cause permanent damage to the joints and deformity.
An anti inflammatory diet can have very positive effects by reducing inflammation in the joints and slowing down disease progression.