Rheumatoid Arthritis: Importance of Early Diagnosis and Treatment
If rheumatoid arthritis is identified at an early stage, development of joint erosions can be prevented. However, absence of treatment at early stages can lead to joint destruction occasionally leading to disability.
Rheumatoid arthritis should be diagnosed at an early stage for better treatment
An autoimmune disorder, rheumatoid arthritis affects the joints of the hands and feet. It is a condition in which the body's immune system attacks the joints. This creates inflammation that causes the tissue that lines the inside of joints to thicken. This further leads to swelling, stiffness and pain in and around the joints. Some common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are early morning sickness, feeling feverish, stiffness and swelling in the joints of hands and feet (which is for about thirty minutes and the condition improves as the day progresses). In the following article, we will talk about some complications of the disease, health risks associated with the disease and the importance of early diagnosis and the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
Complications of rheumatoid arthritis
The complications of the disease are not just related to the joints. If not treated on time, the inflammation can affect the other organs as well. High inflammation could lead to severe joint pain and stiffness, fever and fatigue, weight loss and anemia. It could adversely affect the eyes, skin, heart, blood vessels, lungs and even damage the nerves and the kidney.
Following are my responses to some questions:
Are there any health risks associated with rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis could lead to many diseases. These include lung diseases, coronary artery disease and even certain types of cancers like lymphoma, which is a group of blood cancers that develop in the lymph system.
What is the importance of early diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis?
If rheumatoid arthritis is identified at an early stage, development of joint erosions can be prevented. However, absence of treatment at early stages can lead to joint destruction occasionally leading to disability. A person may also find it difficult to perform daily activities. If rheumatoid arthritis is diagnosed at early stages, the disease can be contained and complications and other health risks can be prevented.
How is the early onset of rheumatoid arthritis treated?
Some of the common treatment options are Conventional Synthetic Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (csDMARDs) which can slow down the joints inflammation and any other organ damage which is caused by rheumatoid arthritis. These drugs act slowly and may take a few days to work. There are also Biological DMARDs available which target the cytokines, which are molecules secreted by the autoimmune cells and mediate the inflammation in the joints. A third kind are the Targeted Synthetic DMARDs which are the latest kinds of drugs available in Indian markets for around years. These show very fast results in RA treatment as pain relief response occurs early.
"The complications of the disease are not just related to the joints. If not treated on time, the inflammation can affect the other organs as well. High inflammation could lead to severe joint pain and stiffness, fever and fatigue, weight loss and anemia."
Dr. PD RathSenior Consultant Rheumatologist, Max Hospitals, Delhi
Are there any exercises or home remedies to treat rheumatoid arthritis?
1. Light exercises like swimming, walking, cycling, some stretching exercises or yoga can be done. However, these exercises should be performed under the supervision of a health care provider.
2. A specific diet which is rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and green vegetables can be followed if you are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. A Mediterranean diet which primarily includes plant-based foods, whole grains, legumes and nuts is also beneficial for people with rheumatoid arthritis.
3. A physiotherapist can also teach you some exercises to help keep your joints flexible and mobilise your joints. The therapist may also suggest some new ways to perform your daily tasks, which will be easier on your joints.
To conclude, like any other lifestyle disease such as high blood pressure and diabetes, even rheumatoid arthritis is treatable. But early diagnosis is extremely important and can help prevent the severity of the disease.
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