Updated on April 20, 2020
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory condition affecting joints and also other organs including the skin, eyes, salivary glands, lungs, heart and blood vessels. It is autoimmune disorder whereby your own immune system mistakenly attacks your own body cells. About 1% of the populations have the condition.
Click John Hopkins Rheumatology video on Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Women (3 times more common compared to men)
- Family history of autoimmune disorder
- Tender or hot swollen joints (usually small joints of the fingers, wrist, knees and feet)
- Joint stiffness especially in the mornings
- The joints can get fixed or deformed if the condition is not treated
- Symptoms can be exacerbated by trigger factors such as weather change (especially cold), damp conditions or stress
- Symptoms typically can get worse (flare-ups) and better (remissions) throughout your life
- Fatigue or tiredness
- Feeling low
There is NO single test which can detect RA. The diagnosis require a series of examination and tests by your doctor and they include
- Blood tests
- X-ray or CT/MRI scan of your joints
The NICE guidelines for the management of RA recommend that a ‘Treat to Target’ approach which involves (a) frequent review the disease status and (b) detailed assessment of your joints to see if there is active inflammation. Your doctor may initiate escalation of therapy until adequate control of the joint inflammation is achieved. Taking medication is the only way to reduce the inflammatory process and get the disease under control. Fortunately, there is a good number of medicines to choose from. (click to read Treatment for RA)
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If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.
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