Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease that targets healthy joints, causing extreme pain, swelling, and stiffness. About 1% of the population suffers from this disease, with women being two or three times as likely to develop it. Early diagnosis and treatment can extend joint flexibility and reduce discomfort.
The reason rheumatoid arthritis classifies as a systemic, autoimmune disorder is that it occurs throughout the body when our antibodies begin to attack healthy tissue. This type of arthritis can affect muscles and organs, in addition to joints, as it progresses. Usually, onset of rheumatoid arthritis occurs between 40-60 years old, and first manifests in wrists and hands.
At first, joints stiffen and redden when their delicate lining, the synovium, swells. Symptoms will vary from pain and discomfort in symmetrical parts of the body, to a low fever, loss of appetite, or fatigue. Next, the body reacts by trying to cushion the joint, thickening the synovium. Finally, antibodies assault the entire joint by breaking down bone, ligaments, tendons, synovium, and cartilage.
Medications can help erase or ease the pain and possibly slow the disease’s progression. Many rheumatoid arthritis treatment approaches use disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) to reduce joint inflammation. Patients also may be prescribed nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain management. NSAIDs are available over the counter, but patients probably will receive stronger prescribed doses when used in a treatment program. There are several surgical interventions available.
Other medications include steroids and immunosuppressants. Steroids target rheumatoid arthritis pain by reducing inflammation. This is often a short-term treatment because sustained use can lead to diabetes, glaucoma, hypertension, and other negative side effects. If other medications fail, immunosuppressants are another option for rheumatoid arthritis treatment because they help prevent the immune system from attacking healthy joints. Edaravone, better known as 3-Methyl-1-phenyl-2-pyrazolin-5-one(CAS: 89-25-8), inhibits the disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis.
Lifestyle changes can help patients manage the disease. Losing weight puts less stress on painful joints. Relaxation techniques, such as meditation or visualization, may also provide coping strategies to handle or minimize pain.