Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease affecting the joints.
What do you mean by an autoimmune disease?
Normally, body’s immune system is designed to fight microoraganisms causing infections. Due to various reasons, the immune system may start considering its own body organs as foreign and attacks it. This self intolerance is known as autoimmunity. The condition it results into is called as autoimmune disease.
What are the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Pain affecting multiple joints; especially the finger joints, wrist & the foot is a characteristic feature of rheumatoid arthritis. The joints are quite stiff & painful in the morning. As the condition progresses the joints swell.
What causes joint swelling in Rheumatoid Arthritis? To understand the cause of joint swelling in Rheumatoid Arthritis, let us first understand the structure of a synovial joint. A joint is made up of two bones. It is lined on the inner side by a protective lining called the synovium. In rheumatoid arthritis, this synovium is the target of immune attack & gets swollen. To begin with; the swelling is mild. Hence it is not very obvious from outside. However, it does cause pain & stiffness of the joint. Later, as the swelling increases, it becomes clearly visible externally as well.
What causes deformities in Rheumatoid Arthritis? The swollen synovium in Rheumatoid Arthritis has destructive potential. If not teated, it begins damaging the underlying bones. This damage involving the bones and surrounding muscles leads to deformities.
Can one prevent these deformities? Yes. Timely diagnosis & treatment can prevent the deformities.
Do we have medicines to control rheumatoid arthritis?
Yes. Anti arthritis drugs like methotrexate, leflunomide, hydroxychloroquine are available to control the rheumatoid artrhtis process.
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