Rheumatoid Arthritis – Diagnosis and Treatment

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that can cause severe pain in the joints. Currently there is no particular cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis and the treatment includes treating the rheumatoid arthritis symptoms like joint pains, inflammation of the joints, loss in  function of joints, deformity and joint damage. For rheumatoid arthritis treatment the diagnostic criteria are as follows:

  • Swelling or inflammation present in at least one joint.
  • The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis persists to exist for at least 6 weeks
  • Results from at least one blood test confirms the presence of rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis checkup

Rheumatoid Arthritis Checkup

The doctor may recommend some test for rheumatoid arthritis checkup.

Blood tests

Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR): This test is used to assess the levels of inflammation in the body. It measures how fast red blood cells sediments at the bottom of a test tube that contain a blood sample. Generally, red blood cells sediments relatively slow. A faster than normal indicates inflammation in the body.

C-reactive protein (CRP):  This test measures the level of C-reactive protein in the blood. It is a protein which is produce by the liver. A higher level of CRP indicates inflammation in the body.

Anaemia: Anaemia is common in rheumatoid arthritis patients. Anaemia is low level of red blood cell count and haemoglobin level in the blood. A high white blood cell count in the blood indicates there is an inflammation which can be due to rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid factor test: This measures the Rheumatoid factor (antibody) present in the blood. The presence of antibody indicates rheumatoid arthritis.

X-rays and imaging scans: MRI or an X-Ray can help the  doctor determine the type of arthritis present and monitor the progress of rheumatoid arthritis over a given period of time.

Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis treatment includes occupational therapy, physical therapy, surgery, medications and counselling.

Occupational therapy

An occupational therapist helps the patient to stay independent by introducing new and effective ways to carry out the daily tasks.

Daily activities such as bathing, dressing and cooking becomes hard and painful for rheumatoid arthritis patients. An occupational therapist helps accomplishing these activities with the help of specially devised gripping and grabbing tool. This can reduce stress to painful joints.

Physical Therapy

The goal of the physical therapist is to keep the patient moving. It uses exercise and other methods to stimulate bones, muscles and joints. The result is more strength and flexibility. This may include:

·       Exercise: the doctor will suggest some exercise to gain more strength and flexibility in the affected area.

·       Heat or ice: application of heat or ice helps to relax tense and painful muscle.

·       Massage: Massage on the affected area can also be helpful.

Medication

Some prescribed medicines can help with the symptoms and slow disease progression.

Surgery

If occupational, physical and medication therapy does not help, a doctor may recommend surgery to:

  • correct deformities
  • repair damaged joints
  • reduce pain

The surgical procedures are as follows:

  • Arthroplasty: In this surgical procedure the surgeon replaces, remodels or realigns a joint in the body. An artificial joint called as prosthesis may also be used.
  • Tendon repair: Tendons are tissues that connect muscles to bones. If tendons are damaged around the joint, then surgery may help restore them.
  • Synovectomy: Synovectomy is a surgical procedure which involves removal of the membrane called Synovium, if it is swollen and causing pain.
  • Arthrodesis: Arthrodesis also termed as joint fusion is a surgery performed to fuse a bone or joint to reduce pain.

Rheumatoid Arthritis treatment

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Home remedies and Prevention

To control and manage rheumatoid arthritis effectively it is important to follow certain home remedies and prevention measures like:

·       Rest: Proper rest is necessary for proper rheumatoid arthritis management. Forceful movements of swollen and painful joints can make the symptoms worse.

·       Exercise: For gaining mobility and strength, exercises that are recommended by the doctor should only be adhered to. During times of remission, over-exerting or performing strenuous exercise for quick relief can increase more pain and make the condition worse.

·       Heat and cold Treatments: Many doctors recommend heat and cold therapy. Regular application of this therapy for 15- 20 minutes can help to reduce the pain and feel better.

·       Diet: Foods that rheumatoid arthritis patients should avoid:

  • Fatty foods
  • Grilled and fried red meats
  • Refined carbohydrates or sugars
  • Gluten
  • Alcohol and tobacco
  • Preservatives and salts

It is highly suggested to include fresh vegetables, fruits, fish, beans, broccoli, strawberries, almonds, walnut, garlic, ginger, turmeric, green tea in the diet for better rheumatoid arthritis management.

It is important to keep your joints moving, maintaining a good posture and not over-exerting the muscles and joints. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle by curtailing alcohol and tobacco and keeping a healthy body weight can help in managing rheumatoid arthritis effectively.

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