After the rain, the sun will reappear. There is life. After the pain, the joy will still be here. – Walt Disney

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis, also called RA, is an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system, which is supposed to protect its health by attacking bacteria and viruses, mistakenly attacks the joints. In severe cases, it also affects internal organs. Rheumatoid arthritis causes painful swelling of the joints and over time can also lead to bone erosion and joint deformity.

Possible Causes: 

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a common rheumatic condition that affects around 1-2 % of the population. RA most often starts in the small joints, of the hands and feet on both sides of the body. However larger joints such as the hips and knees can also be affected. 

Sometimes, RA can affect the organs, such as eyes, skin or lungs. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis should be diagnosed as early as possible so that effective treatment can be initiated to prevent joint damage and comorbidities. 


Factors that may increase your risk of rheumatoid arthritis: 

  • Rheumatoid arthritis affects adults of any age, but peaks between 30 and 50 years.   
  • Women are more likely than men to develop rheumatoid arthritis. 
  • Your family history may increase risk of the disease. 
  • Cigarette smoking increases your risk and severity of the disease. 
  • Exposure to a polluted environment is considered to be a risk. 
  • Overweight people, especially women are more likely to be afflicted by this disease. 

Signs & Symptoms: 

Rheumatoid arthritis can be very painful as it affects the lining of your joints, causing bone erosion and joint deformity. Some rheumatoid arthritis symptoms could be: 

  • Joint stiffness that is usually worse in the mornings and after periods of inactivity. 
  • Fatigue, fever and loss of appetite. 
  • Tender, and inflamed joints. 
  • The joints that attach your fingers to your hands and your toes to your feet are usually affected first. 
  • Sometimes, a person’s joints are not affected, instead the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, kidneys, salivary glands, 
  • nerve tissue, bone marrow and blood vessels get affected. 
  • The signs and symptoms may fluctuate from periods of increased disease activity, called flares to periods of 
  • remission when the swelling and pain reduce. 

Diagnosis: 

Rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis involves the following steps: 

  • Our specialist would first conduct a physical examination of your joints for swelling, redness and 
  • warmth. 
  • Then your reflexes and muscle strength would be checked. 
  • Blood tests that check for elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) or C-reactive protein (CRP), 
  • which may indicate presence of an inflammation. Other blood tests to look for rheumatoid factor and 
  • anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) antibodies. 
  • X-rays, MRI and ultrasound tests to understand the spread and the severity of the disease in your 
  • joints over time.  

Treatment Options:  

At the Medcare Department of Rheumatology, you can discuss the best rheumatoid arthritis treatment for you with a specialist. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, a specialist will recommend a combination of medication, therapy and if needed surgical treatment.

The mainstay of treatment for RA are Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). These drugs can slow the progression of rheumatoid arthritis and save the joints and other tissues from permanent damage These drugs target those parts of the immune system that trigger inflammation that causes joint and tissue damage. 

If damage has developed in joints then surgical measures like synovectomy, tendon repair or joint fusion may be required along with the ongoing medical management. Finally, total joint replacement is recommended for those patients of rheumatoid arthritis where damage has set in the form of osteoarthritis with deformity and subsequent disability.

FAQs: الأسئلة الشائعة:
  • What happens when you’re afflicted by rheumatoid arthritis?

    A: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. It is more common in people who smoke and/or have a family history of RA.

    The immune system attacks the lining of the membranes that surround the joints. The resulting inflammation thickens the lining which can eventually destroy the cartilage and bone within the joint. The tendons and ligaments that hold the joint together weaken and stretch. Gradually, the joint loses its shape and alignment.

  • I suffer from RA and my doctor has advised me to take special care to prevent heart disease. How are these related?

    A: RA increases your risk of developing heart disease. Chronic inflammation affects the walls of blood vessels and also makes the deposited plaque more prone to rupture. This rupture can trigger a heart attack. However, RA alone will not lead to a heart attack, only when it is combined with other factors such as hypertension or diabetes. So, focus on managing your blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and avoid smoking. 

    Find out about the right rheumatoid arthritis diet that will help you to control these factors. Follow the instructions of your rheumatologist so that the RA inflammation remains under control.

  • What are first signs of rheumatoid arthritis?

    A: Certain signs of rheumatoid arthritis that everyone should be aware of include fatigue, morning stiffness and minor swelling in the joints.

    Other symptoms may include a low-grade fever, tingling or numbness in your hands or feet, a dry mouth, dry, inflamed or itchy eyes and a general feeling of being unwell.

    While there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, diagnosing it in time can make managing the symptoms easier. So, consult a doctor at the earliest if you experience or notice such symptoms.

    Feel like you are experiencing one or a combination of these symptoms? Book an appointment with a Medcare specialist today.

  • Is rheumatoid arthritis an autoimmune disease?

    A: Yes, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, i.e. it is a condition that causes your immune system to start attacking normal healthy cells. 

    When you have rheumatoid arthritis, your immune system starts to attack the lining of your joints. This causes inflammation, which can also affect other parts of your body. However, the symptoms of autoimmune diseases vary from person to person and can also change daily.

    It is difficult to diagnose autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis because they tend to share their symptoms with other medical conditions. Thus, medical intervention is imperative for successful management of rheumatoid arthritis.

    Need successful and effective management for rheumatoid arthritis? Book an appointment with a Medcare specialist today.

  • What is difference between rheumatoid arthritis and arthritis?

    A: Some of the main differences between rheumatoid arthritis and arthritis are-

    1. Rheumatoid arthritis can begin at any time in life, while arthritis tends to start later in life. 
    2. Rheumatoid arthritis progresses rapidly over weeks to months; arthritis progresses more slowly over the years.
    3. Rheumatoid arthritis causes joints to become painful, swollen and stiff, while arthritis causes ache and tenderness in joints but little to no swelling. 
    4. Rheumatoid arthritis causes morning stiffness that lasts over an hour, while arthritis causes morning stiffness that lasts only a few minutes.
    5. Rheumatoid arthritis also causes frequent fatigue and a general feeling of being unwell, which doesn't happen to arthritis patients.

    Need an expert to help manage your rheumatoid arthritis successfully? Book an appointment with a Medcare specialist today.

  • Can Rheumatoid arthritis go away on its own?

    A: The swelling and joint pain you experience when you have rheumatoid arthritis tend to come and go. Sometimes you will feel better, and your symptoms will remain under control. This period is known as 'remission.' 

    When you are in remission, it may feel like your rheumatoid arthritis has suddenly been cured. However, this only lasts for some time. Rheumatoid arthritis, however, is an autoimmune disease and cannot truly go away forever. 

    Early diagnosis and treatment have been known to help many patients achieve remission and also slow down joint damage associated with rheumatoid arthritis. 

    Ultimately, the symptoms do return and are called a flare-up.

    Are you seeking expert's help to manage your rheumatoid arthritis successfully? Book an appointment with a Medcare specialist today.

  • How serious is rheumatoid arthritis?

    A: Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that can turn into a severe condition which can worsen over time.

    The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis continue to get worse if the disease is left untreated. The condition can also cause severe damage to your joints and lead to severe complications in major organs. 

    It may even cause the bones to fuse in the long run, leading to deformity and a complete loss of mobility. Thus, it is recommended that if you experience any warning signs of the disease, you should get a medical opinion at the earliest.

    Need a successful treatment for your rheumatoid arthritis? Book an appointment with a Medcare specialist today.

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