Rheumatoid Arthritis, often simply referred to as RA, is an autoimmune disease. It effects the body through the immune system mistakenly attacking the joints. The immune system is supposed to protect the body by attacking foreign substances, but in rheumatoid arthritis it does the opposite, attacking healthy joints. The result is painful inflammation which often results in swelling through the thickening of the tissue (synovium) lining the joints. Synovium helps the joints to move easily as it produces a fluid which lubricates them properly.
Unchecked joint inflammation can escalate quite quickly. It can result in cartilage damage or even damage the hones themselves. Rheumatoid arthritis can lead to the loss of cartilage and can lead to the joint spacing shrinking. In time joints, can even become loose and especially painful to use, leading to a loss of mobility. Once joint damage occurs it is irreversible and so it is important for anyone worried about their joints to see a doctor as soon as possible. Getting a referral to a rheumatologist should be a priority.
Common Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnoses
Rheumatoid arthritis is most commonly found in joints in the hand, feet, ankles, wrists and knees. It usually has a symmetrical effect which means you will usually have the same condition on both your left and right hand sides, not just one.
Rheumatoid arthritis can be a difficult condition to manage. The pain involved can be severe but with the right treatment there are many thousands of people living with rheumatoid arthritis and maintaining full, active and independent lives. A qualified rheumatology consultant will work with you to put together an effective and suitable treatment plan for your condition. No two people experience exactly the same symptoms or have the same response to pain. Therefore, your chosen rheumatologist will utilise their expertise to find the right treatments for you and your condition.