Health Fo­cus

...Is painful. Here are op­tions for gain­ing con­trol over it.

Health & Nutrition - - CONTENTS -

un­der­stand­ing arthri­tis

Your joints are some­times a bit stiff when you first wake in the morn­ing, but lately they’ve been down­right swollen and un­com­fort­able. You were di­ag­nosed with rheuma­toid arthri­tis a cou­ple of years back, and thanks to the med­i­ca­tions your doctor rec­om­mended, your signs and symp­toms have largely been kept in check – un­til now.

In­side Your JoInts Rheuma­toid arthri­tis oc­curs when you im­mune sys­tem at­tacks the joint lin­ings (syn­ovial mem­branes) that pro­tect and lu­bri­cate your joints. When this hap­pens, the mem­branes be­come in­flamed, caus­ing your joints to feel warm, painful and swollen. This is called syn­ovi­tis. The joints may also be­come stiff, par­tic­u­larly in the morn­ing. Per­sis­tent in­flam­ma­tion can cause the re­lease of cells, chem­i­cals and en­zymes that be­gin to eat away at the car­ti­lage and bone. Dam­age to ten­dons and lig­a­ments also may oc­cur. Over time, this process may cause the mus­cles around the joint to be­come weak. Even­tu­ally, this in­flam­ma­tion leads to de­struc­tion of the joint. This is what makes prompt treat­ment of rheuma­toid arthri­tis so im­por­tant.

Who’s At RIsk Although ex­perts don’t fully un­der­stand the cause of rheuma­toid arthri­tis, hor­mones and en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tors are in­volved. Peo­ple with a spe­cific ge­netic marker are five times more likely to de­velop rheuma­toid arthri­tis than are peo­ple with­out the marker. In re­cent years, re­searchers have iden­ti­fied over 100 other genes linked to in­creased risk

of de­vel­op­ing more se­vere disease. In­fec­tious agents, such as bac­te­ria and viruses, are thought to pos­si­bly trig­ger the disease in peo­ple who are ge­net­i­cally sus­cep­ti­ble. The disease is pre­dom­i­nantly found in women. Hor­mones also are be­lieved to play a role. Life­style fac­tors uch as smok­ing and obe­sity also in­crease the risk.

Get­ting A DI­AG­no­sIs The on­set of rheuma­toid arthri­tis can be sud­den and se­vere, with swelling in many joints, or it can be sub­tle and progress slowly, with swelling in only one or two joints. This vari­abil­ity can make the disease chal­leng­ing to di­ag­nose in its early stages. If you no­tice joint swelling that lasts longer than a cou­ple of weeks, see your doctor. While there’s no one spe­cific test used to make a di­ag­no­sis, your doctor will use in­for­ma­tion gath­ered from a phys­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion, eval­u­a­tion of symp­toms, blood tests and imag­ing stud­ies to con­firm a di­ag­no­sis of rheuma­toid arthri­tis. The imag­ing tests of­ten in­clude X-rays of the hands, wrists and feet, which are used to look for signs of joint dam­age. These images are also used as a base­line for mon­i­tor­ing any pro­gres­sion of the disease over time.

Early And AG­GREs­sIvE tREAt­mEnt The first goal in treat­ing rheuma­toid arthri­tis is usu­ally to put the disease in re­mis­sion by stop­ping or re­duc­ing in­flam­ma­tion. Early, ag­gres­sive treat­ment with med­i­ca­tions im­proves the odds of re­mis­sion. By gain­ing tight con­trol of the disease, the pace of joint dam­age can be slowed or even halted. A num­ber of drugs may be used to slow disease ac­tiv­ity: tra­di­tional dis­ease­mod­i­fy­ing anti-rheumatic drugs (DmARDs) – These drugs are typ­i­cally the first line of treat­ment. Com­monly used DMARDs in­clude methotrex­ate, hy­drox­y­chloro­quine, lefluno­mide and sul­fasalazine. They are typ­i­cally taken by mouth, but methotrex­ate may also be given in in­jec­tion.

If you no­tice joint swelling that lasts longer than a cou­ple of weeks, see your doctor.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.