About Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic disorder that may affect the joints, including the feet and knees. Here in this article, we will guide you through the symptoms, stages, medications, and health effects of RA and briefly explain whether it is genetically passed.
Is Rheumatoid Arthritis Genetically Passed?
Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disorder and has a genetic basis. People with specific markers have a higher chance of developing the disease. Your family history plays an important role in this. However, other factors like smoking, age, gender, environment, and behavior are also the factors behind this. Genes that are linked with RA are;
- STAT4 – This specific gene activates and regulates the immune system.
- C5 and TRAF1 – Play a major role in chronic inflammation.
- PTPN22 – Influences the expression and progression of RA.
- HLA-DR4- People with this gene are more likely to develop RA than those who do not have it. Symptoms of this gene can be worse.
4 Stages of Rheumatoid Arthritis
The four stages of Rheumatoid Arthritis include;
Stage 1 – Synovitis
In the first stage of Rheumatoid Arthritis, you may experience mild symptoms, including joint stiffness and joint pain commonly affecting the fingers, hands, knees, and ankles. Your body’s immune system starts attacking the joint tissue, which causes the synovial membrane to swell and inflamed.
Stage 2 – Pannus
In the second stage, you may observe the continuation of the inflammation that leads to cartilage thinning. Cartilage provides a cushion for the bones, making the joint motion more fluid. Without that cushion, stiffness and joint pain may worsen. Without the protection of the cartilage, bones begin to deteriorate the joints.
Stage 3 – Fibrous Ankylosis
Ankylosis is a term that is used when bones start to merge at a point that causes an uncommon way of mobility. In stage three of Rheumatoid arthritis, the joint area starts to fuse with a connective fibrous tissue, which will harshly limit the range of your motion and make simple tasks tougher for you. in this stage, you may observe that joints may start to appear crooked and bent.
Stage 4 – Bony Ankylosis
As the name suggests, the bones fuse with the actual bone. In this stage, the pain goes away, and so does your mobility. The joint is gone if you can not bend or flex the area.
Major Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Health Effects
In the early stage, people with Rheumatoid Arthritis experience swelling or redness in the joints but may also experience pain and tenderness.
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis include:
- Morning stiffness which lasts for 30 minutes or more.
- More than one joint is affected.
- Small joints such as certain joints in the hands, feet, and wrist are typically affected first.
- Tenderness, swelling, stiffness, and joint pain will last six weeks or more.
- Many people experience fatigue and low-grade fever.
Many symptoms and inflammation, called a flare, can last for weeks or months.
- It causes dryness and inflammation in the gum and irritation and infection.
- Rheumatoid arthritis lowers the number of red blood cells, and the inflammation can damage the heart’s muscles and surrounding areas.
- Painful joints become an obstacle in exercise, leading to weight gain or obesity. People with RA are more likely to develop heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol.
- Scarring and inflammation can lead to lung disease and shortness of breath.
- It can have small lumps under the skin over bony areas, called Rheumatoid nodules.
- It can also cause inflammation of blood vessels, damaging the skin, nerves, and other organs.
Best Medication for Rheumatoid Arthritis
In addition to medicines used to control the progression of Rheumatoid arthritis, you can take medicines to relieve pain after consulting a doctor. Medications for Rheumatoid Arthritis include:
1. Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs
Instead of painkillers to relieve pain, your doctor may prescribe you medicines that are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. It includes naproxen, diclofen and ibuprofen. Your doctor may also prescribe you COX-2 inhibitors like etoricoxib or celecoxib.
Though it will not prevent the further inflammation caused due to Rheumatoid Arthritis, temporarily, these medicines can help you to relieve pain.
Though it is a rare overdose of NSAIDs, it can increase the risk of serious stomach problems, such as internal bleeding. Medicines can break the lining that protects the stomach against stomach acids.
Along with NSAID tablets, you can take a proton pump inhibitor, which decreases the risk of damage to the stomach lining by reducing the amount of acid in the stomach.
In many cases, doctors prescribe paracetamol or the combination of codeine and paracetamol to get relief from pain.
These medicines do not help reduce the inflammation in joints, but it somehow helps you to get relief from pain.
In terms of reducing stiffness, pain, and inflammation, steroids are powerful medicines that can be given in the form of:
- An injection directly into a painful joint
- Injection into a muscle
- A tablet such as prednisolone.
For short-term relief from pain, steroids are effective, but in the long term, they can cause serious side effects such as;
- Muscle weakness
- Easy bruising
- Weight gain
- Thinning of the skin
4. JAK Inhibitors
JAK inhibitors medicines are usually taken in combination with methotrexate. Adults with severe Rheumatoid Arthritis can consume this medicine after consulting a doctor. It is offered to those who can not take biologicals and DMARDs or find other medicines are ineffective. Baricitinib is a JAK inhibitor that is commonly used in the treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Disease-modifying Anti Rheumatic Drugs
If you have been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, then in your initial treatment doctor will prescribe you medicine with DMARD tablets. It works by blocking the effects of the chemicals released when the immune system attacks the joints, which can cause further damage to nearby tendons, ligaments, cartilage, bones, etc.
For further information, you can contact us or visit our website. Our experts are here to solve all your queries regarding treatment and medications.