Ask all your questions and stay well informed about rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease of unknown origin and is characterized by deformity and destruction of the joints that occur due to bone and cartilage erosions.
It should be noted that anyone can acquire rheumatoid arthritis, regardless of gender, but the disease has a prevalence of up to three times more in women than in men. In addition, this predisposition increases as people age.
A study carried out in 2007 by researchers from the Rheumatology services of the Faculty of Ribeirão Preto, in which 1381 medical records of patients treated in the state of São Paulo between the years 2002 and 2005 were reviewed, outlined a profile of the people who are most likely to develop the disease. rheumatoid arthritis.
The results of this research showed that of the 1381 patients evaluated, 86% were women, Caucasian, aged between 40 and 50 years old, presented with the disease for about 7 years and weighed an average of 65.6 kg. The study, carried out by medical researchers, shows how women are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis and that is why they need special care.
Now that you know what rheumatoid arthritis is, you must be asking yourself what are the symptoms of this disease and the treatment possibilities to fight it, right? So read on, and then check out all of this important information.
What are the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis?
When we talk about symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis it is important to note that they can appear both separately and together. Therefore, if you suspect that you have this disease, it is recommended that you seek medical help. Only with professional support and through examinations is it possible to identify the disease correctly and thus make the appropriate treatment.
The main symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are those listed below. See and identify if you have any of them.
- morning stiffness: upon waking, there is usually stiffness in joints and joints, which can last for up to about an hour;
- arthritis in three or more areas: rheumatoid arthritis is generally not solitary. That is, the person who has this disease has arthritis in at least three joint areas with soft tissue edema. In this sense, joint effusion may also occur;
- arthritis in the hands and near parts: one of the first places where rheumatoid arthritis develops is in the hands and close areas such as the wrists, proximal interphalangeal and metacarpophalangeal;
- development of symmetrical arthritis: that is, one that affects two sister joints at the same time, such as the two knees, the two ankles, the two wrists, etc;
- presence of rheumatoid nodule: appearance of lumps that can develop in various parts of the body, together with the occurrence of arthritis. These nodules have a size that can vary between 2 mm and 5 mm and usually develop in areas close to the joints;
- serum rheumatoid factor: the rheumatoid factor is measured by means of a blood test. This rate is normal as far as the 1:20 amount. People with a serum rheumatoid factor, that is, above 1:20, may have this disease, as well as others such as lupus, vasculitis, tuberculosis, malaria, syphilis, among others;
- radiographic changes: when the X-ray exam is done and the doctor identifies erosions or descalcifications located on the hands and wrists, it can also be an indication of rheumatoid arthritis.
Whenever you experience at least four of these symptoms, for at least six weeks, it means that you may be suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. This information is based on a study
developed by Unicamp scientists, published in the journal Brasil Reumatologia.
That same research concluded that patients with two or three criteria are not excluded from developing rheumatoid arthritis in the future, which is why it is important to seek medical help even if you have less than four of these symptoms.
The initial assessment made by rheumatologists to identify rheumatoid arthritis takes into account the patient’s complete physical exams, as well as their reports of the occurrence of the symptoms previously described.
Some tests also need to be done to diagnose this problem. Learn more about some of them:
The blood test is used to measure the level of the rheumatoid factor, as previously mentioned. The idea is to identify the presence of this component in the blood, as well as the cyclic citrullinated anti-peptide antibody, which is usually seen in patients with this disease.
The erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and active protein C, when present in the blood, may also indicate that there are inflammations in the body, including rheumatoid arthritis.
The imaging tests used to identify the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging. Both serve to make a deeper analysis of the condition of the joints, the appearance of erosions, descaling, deformities etc.
This is the most invasive and uncomfortable test to be performed, but it is necessary in some cases in which the disease is not identified in the simplest tests. This involves collecting the synovial fluid from one of the inflamed joints. Thus, an analysis is made of the composition of this liquid to rule out other causes and confirm that it is rheumatoid arthritis.
Only after this thorough evaluation, doctors will be able to propose an appropriate treatment to alleviate the problems caused by this disease.
To let you know what these treatments are and how to do them, we explain the main ones, in the next section of this article. Follow us and check it out right now.
What are the treatments for rheumatoid arthritis?
There are several treatments that can be used to reduce the pain and discomfort caused by rheumatoid arthritis. They range from the most traditional and common, to others more alternative or modern.
It is worth remembering that rheumatoid arthritis, especially in the elderly, can cause reduced mobility and, therefore, treatments that require physical exertion must often be accompanied by professionals such as physiotherapists or physical educators.
We will comment on each of these treatments in more detail below.
Physiotherapy is one of the main treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, as functional exercises, such as pilates and stretching can prevent loss of mobility and relieve the pain caused by it.
Stretching exercises also prevent the tendons from being shortened due to inactivity, which helps to maintain functionality in the joints that suffer deformations due to the disease.
Doctors can also prescribe medication to relieve pain and reduce inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis. In this case, there are four classes of remedies that can be used in the treatment.
We emphasize here the importance of only using these drugs with medical guidance. Never self-medicate, as you may develop other serious health problems, if the use of medicines is not professionally monitored.
The classes of drugs that can be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis are as follows:
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
These are medications such as Ibuprofen and Naproxen, which serve as a palliative and can reduce the pain caused by inflammation.
Its use is recommended for a maximum of four weeks, as if it is used more often than that, it may have a diminished effect, in addition to causing other side effects.
Like the class of NSAIDs, corticosteroid drugs do not prevent deformities caused by rheumatoid arthritis and serve only as a palliative for quick treatments at the onset of the symptoms of the disease.
Prednisone is the most used substance, usually in conjunction with anti-inflammatory drugs, as indicated by the doctor and pharmacist.
Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
Unlike the categories mentioned above, DMARDs decrease inflammatory processes, preventing deformations resulting from the disease from taking on greater proportion and progression.
Despite this, these drugs are immunosuppressive, that is, they generate a weakening of the immune system, which can cause other diseases, mainly of viral or bacterial origin, to be acquired. The effects also take time to be felt, occurring only after months of use.
Examples of such drugs are penicillamine, hydroxychloroquine, methotrexate, cyclosporine, sulfasalazine, azathioprine, leflunomide, among others.
Biological response modifiers
These drugs are more modern than the others and come from biotechnology. They have a very strong immunosuppressive effect, however, which can lead to more serious side effects.
Because they are very strong and cause a lot of discomfort and discomfort in the patient, this type of medicine is only used in more advanced cases of the disease, when other treatments no longer respond as expected.
Etanercept, and infliximab, or adalimumab, anakinra, abatacept and rituximab are some of these biological response modifying drugs, which under no circumstances can be used without proper professional monitoring.
In some cases, when the use of medications and other types of treatment are no longer sufficient to combat rheumatoid arthritis, the doctor may suggest that surgery be done to correct the damage caused to the joints.
Examples of these surgical procedures are:
It is a procedure in which the entire inflamed part of the synovial membrane is removed, in order to prevent damage to the cartilage. This surgery can be done in arthrosis on the knees, hips, fingers and wrists.
This surgery is indicated only for very severe cases of rheumatoid arthritis. It consists of the fusion of two bones, permanently eliminating the joints that inflame. This is a very radical measure and can have a slow and painful recovery process.
One of the main damages caused by rheumatoid arthritis is inflammation in the tendons. Therefore, this surgery aims to repair the damaged parts so that the movements are acquired.
In this surgery, all damaged parts of the joints are removed and replaced with metal or plastic prostheses. The prostheses are very durable and can remain in use by the patient for up to 20 years, without the need for changes.
Despite this, there are risks in surgery, such as rejection of the prosthesis by the organisms, causing severe pain in the area and the need to remove the false items from the body.
Although there is no scientific research to prove the functioning of alternative therapies, many people and practitioners of alternative medicine report that some of these treatments are highly effective in combating rheumatoid arthritis.
However, it is worth remembering that the medicated or physiotherapy treatments indicated by the doctor should never be replaced by alternative therapies. What can be done is a union of the two practices, but never the substitution of one for the other.
An example of alternative therapy to cure inflammation is the use of fish oil based supplements. These are substances rich in fatty acids, which contribute to the reduction of pain and stiffness.
Massages can also be seen as alternative therapies, making use of oils from various seed plants, such as borage and cassis. There are also natural medicines made from these plant oils.
Photobiomodulation, also known as Low-Level Light Therapy (LLLT) is a modern, innovative treatment that can be an ally in combating inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis.
Using appropriate equipment that can be purchased easily and at an affordable price for home use, a radiant light is emitted, composed of several wavelengths. These waves generate several benefits for biological tissues, which can alleviate pain and decrease inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis.
Is rheumatoid arthritis curable?
Although there are several treatments to relieve inflammation and pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis, this disease has no cure. Therefore, it is necessary to learn to live with it and never stop doing treatments such as physiotherapy, alternative therapies and LLLT. The use of medicines can also be done, but always with medical guidance.
As rheumatoid arthritis has no cure and you need to learn to live with it, we have listed some tips for you to know how to live with this disease:
Seek psychological support
If you notice that you are very sad because of the problems caused by rheumatoid arthritis, such as decreased movement, for example, you may also be developing depression. In that case, the accompaniment of a psychologist or psychiatrist is too important.
Have an adequate diet
Although there is no specific diet for people with rheumatoid arthritis, eating properly and following a balanced menu, with healthy foods helps in stabilizing weight and reducing joint pain.
Compress the joints
When you have a lot of joint pain, a good tip is to make compresses with hot or cold water on the spot.
Know your limits
You must know how far you can go in each situation. Never do physical exercises or movements that you think are sudden, for example. After all, you know yourself better than anyone and know what your limitations are.
Can we answer your questions about rheumatoid arthritis? We hope so and that you may have been better informed on this very important issue for people’s health, especially for women and the elderly.
And don’t forget that we are here to help you and that for any questions you have, you don’t need to stop contacting us. It is a pleasure and satisfaction for us to contribute to the development of your health and well-being.