Rheumatoid Arthritis Effects the Body’s Own Immune System

 

rheumatoid arthritis

 

Arthritis is the name given to painful joint diseases. There are more than 100 different forms of arthritis that affect more than 43 million Americans and 20% of the adult population. This makes arthritis one of the most common health problems in the United States. Pain and stiffness in the joints may mean one thing—arthritis.

This disease may cause painful swelling and inflammation of the joints and are experienced my millions of people around the world. In the United States alone, it is estimated that by 2030 there will be nearly 70 million affected by this disease. This health ailment may be caused by pain and swelling in the joints.

Cases of arthritis may be mild or severe, short-term or permanent. Medical researchers suggest that there are more than 100 forms of arthritis but the most familiar form is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis takes place when the cartilage that supports the joints ear out, a process that occurs over a long period. Individuals who workout too much or over-train have increased risk of developing this ailment.

Arthritis also is the leading cause of disability. Nearly 7 million people in the U.S., including 20% of people with arthritis, are unable to perform major life activities such as working or housekeeping because of this disease.

 Arthritis sufferers endure more days in severe pain, experience more days with limited ability to perform daily activities, and have more difficulty performing personal-care routines than people without arthritis. As with other chronic pain conditions, arthritis have negative effects on mental health.

The Definition 

Known as Still’s disease when it affects children, is a condition that causes inflammation of joints and associated pain, swelling, and stiffness. Rheumatoid arthritis causes the body’s own immune system to attack joint tissue, breaking down collagen, cartilage, and sometimes bone or other organs.

This chronic disease varies between people and fluctuates over time, often marked by symptoms that improve only to re-emerge later. In some cases its mild and lasts only a few months (this kind is called type 1), while in others the disease becomes progressively complicated by disability and other health problems, lasting many years (this is called type 2 ).

RA most often affects the wrist and finger joints closest to the hand, but can also affect joints in the feet and throughout the body. Anyone can be affected, however women are more likely to develop symptoms, which most often begin between the ages of 20 and 30. The causes are not yet understood, but many effective strategies have been developed to manage its symptoms.

 

Symptoms and Signs

The main symptom is joint stiffness in the morning, often in the hands or feet. Stiffness that persists for an hour or more, or swelling and pain that lasts for more than six weeks, may be indicative of the disease. Joint discomfort is typically symmetrical, i.e. both hands will hurt or feel stiff, not just one. Early symptoms also may include fever, excessive tiredness, or pea-sized lumps called “nodules” that can be felt under the skin.

Other possible rheumatoid arthritis symptoms include anemia, appetite loss, and the accumulation of fluid in the ankles or behind the knee. In children, symptoms may include shaking chills and a pink rash may follow the characteristic painful and swollen joints.

 

Why Rheumatoid Arthritis Is Painful

How joint pain and the destruction of cartilage are related is not fully understood. Cartilage itself does not cause pain because there are no nerve structures in cartilage to transmit pain signals. Most likely, the pain of rheumatoid arthritis is caused by the irritation of other tissues in and around the affected joints. This irritation may be caused by chemical-messenger substances, such as prostaglandin E2, that are associated with the disease process. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) reduce pain because they inhibit the production of prostaglandins.

 

Other Conditions That Can Cause Pain

Pain and stiffness similar to rheumatoid arthritis symptoms can be caused by many other conditions. Even if injury or infection can be ruled out, anything from bunions to fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome can cause pain.

Only a medical professional can identify many sources of joint pain, because similar symptoms can result from other autoimmune diseases, from serious conditions such as cancer, or from many other kinds of arthritis.

 

The Causes 

The causes are not fully understood, but important contributing factors have been identified. The self-destructive immune response of rheumatoid arthritis may be caused by a combination of genetic susceptibility and an environmental trigger. Changing hormones also may play an important part in the disease, possibly in response to an infection from the environment.

More than one gene has been linked to risk for rheumatoid arthritis. Specific genes may increase a person’s chance of developing the disease, and also could partially determine how serious his or her condition is. However, since not all people with a genetic predisposition actually have the disease, other factors must be important.

A specific environmental trigger has not yet been found, but some research suggests that infection by a virus or bacterium leads to genetically susceptible people. This does not mean that its contagious. People with RA appear to have more antibodies in the synovial fluid in their joints, suggesting that there may be an infection.

Low levels of hormones from the adrenal gland are common, but how hormones interact with environmental and genetic factors is unknown. Hormone changes may contribute to the progression of the rheumatoid arthritis.

The best course of action to take sometimes isn’t clear until you’ve listed and considered ALL of your alternatives.

 

http://www.webmd.com

http://www.mindbodygreen.com

Are You Eating Right? Heal Chronic Conditions -

with this easy to follow diet!

You have Successfully Subscribed!