Dear joints, why so stiff?
India is home to around 7 million people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.* It is the third most common type of arthritis behind osteoarthritis and gout. Rheumatoid arthritis is a disabling joint disorder in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your joints and their linings. These types of conditions in which your immune cells cause damage to healthy body cells are known as autoimmune disorders.
Checklist: What Can Be The Symptoms?
-Do your joints, especially the smaller ones (hands, wrist, and feet), remain stiff even after hours of waking up in the morning?
-Do you have pain when moving your fingers and wrists?
-Have you been lately feeling a general weakness or a lack of energy throughout the day?
Remember, symptoms can last days to weeks, and come and go. Between the transient episodes, the affected joints are normal without any signs of pain and swelling or joint damage.
Common Risk Factors
Advancing age: It can start at any age, but risk increases with increase in age
Gender: Risk for women is 2-3 times higher as that of men
Gene makeup: People born with certain specific genes can be at an increased risk of developing RA.
Smoking: It is the most strongly associated risk factor when it comes to the onset of RA
Obesity: The extra fat in your body releases high levels of chemicals that can cause inflammation throughout your body worsen existing joint inflammation.
Testing And Treatment For RA
There is no single test that can give a definite diagnosis of RA. Your doctor will do a physical examination and may suggest you imaging tests and RA-specific antibody tests. Explore our range of lab tests and get exclusive discounts.
Thankfully, medicines are available that can help decrease pain and swelling in the joints by reducing inflammation. Timely diagnosis and treatment can help prevent any further damage.
Can It Be Prevented?
RA is not limited to joints. It may also involve organs other than joints, such as skin, eyes, and even your lungs and heart. People with RA face a 50% higher risk for heart disease. Alas! There is no known way to prevent RA but you can certainly do lifestyle changes like maintaining a healthy weight and quitting smoking and decrease your risk.
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Swati Mishra, Medical Editor)