Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a serious autoimmune disease which affects the joints primarily. In some cases, other organs of our body are also affected. This chronic disease can severely impair a person’s quality of life, if not treated at its earliest. This blog gives us insights on the basics of rheumatoid arthritis and expert tips from a highly experienced orthopedist in South Kolkata on its management.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)?
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues, particularly the synovium—a membrane that lines the joints. This autoimmune response causes inflammation in the affected joints, leading to pain, stiffness, swelling, and damage.
Rheumatoid arthritis typically affects multiple joints simultaneously, with a predilection for those in the hands, wrists, and knees. Within an affected joint, inflammation of the joint lining occurs, leading to the deterioration of joint tissues. This damage often results in persistent or chronic pain, instability, and joint deformities. RA can also affect our eyes, lungs and heart.
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
RA exhibits various symptoms, usually featured by periods of exacerbation, known as flares, and periods of relief, known as remission. Common signs and symptoms of RA encompass:
- Stiffness affecting multiple joints.Pain or discomfort in multiple joints.
- Tenderness and swelling in numerous joints.
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Persistent fatigue.
- Occasional fever.
- Muscle weakness.
Risk factors of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Orthopedician in South Kolkata enlists the following factors that contribute to the development of RA:
- Genetics: A family history of RA increases the risk. Certain genetic markers, such as the HLA-DR4 gene, are associated with a higher susceptibility to the disease.
- Environmental Factors: Chances of developing RA increases with continuous exposure to certain environmental conditions, like smoking.
- Immune System Dysfunction: RA is primarily an autoimmune disorder. The immune system malfunctions and mistakenly targets healthy tissues, including joint linings.
- Smoking: Engaging in cigarette smoking raises the likelihood of developing rheumatoid arthritis, especially if there’s a genetic predisposition. Furthermore, smoking seems linked to increased disease severity.
- Excess Weight: Individuals with excess body weight face a slightly elevated risk of rheumatoid arthritis development.
How to manage Rheumatoid Arthritis?
This condition affects several aspects of the patient’s daily life, including leisure, work and social life. Fortunately, multiple low-cost strategies can help improve one’s quality of life.
Enhance Your Physical Activity: Spend at least 150 minutes doing exercises like swimming, walking, or biking. You can even break it down into three ten-minute sessions per day.
Explore Physical Activity Programs: If you need help exercising safely with RA, consider joining local physical activity programs. These classes, held in places like community centers and parks, can reduce pain, improve mood, and enhance mobility in individuals with RA.
Enroll in Self-Management Classes: Participating in self-management education classes can boost your confidence in managing RA symptoms and living well with the condition. These classes help you understand how RA affects your life and how to control its impact.
Quit Smoking: Smoking exacerbates RA and can lead to other health issues. It also makes it harder to stay physically active, a crucial aspect of managing RA.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight: Maintaining a healthy weight is essential for individuals with RA. Obesity can exacerbate RA symptoms and lead to additional complications.
Managing rheumatoid arthritis (RA) involves physical activity, education, and healthy lifestyle choices. With these easy strategies and professional guidance from a renowned orthopedist in South Kolkata, RA patients can lead fulfilling lives despite the challenges posed by the disease.