Rheumatoid Arthritis affects about 1% of the population worldwide. Rheumatoid Arthritis is a type of chronic arthritis that occurs in joints on both sides of the body, such as both hands, both wrists and both knees. Rheumatoid arthritis may also affect the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, blood or nerves. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment is the key to preventing joint destruction and organ damage.
Eminent rheumatologists have pointed out that there is extreme shortage of qualified rheumatologists in Pakistan. There are only 25-30 specialists against the standard requirement of 3000 to treat a population of 180 million. A rheumatology department is successfully working in Fatima Memorial Hospital Lahore and another one is opening in Multan.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Ans: Rheumatoid Arthritis means inflammation in a joint. Joint inflammation causes redness, warmth, swelling and pain within the joint. It is an autoimmune disease, meaning the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy tissues.
What are the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Ans: The severity of the disease can vary from person to person. Symptoms can vary from day to day. Key symptoms are pain fatigue and warm, swollen, reddish joints. Long periods of joint stiffness in the morning are common. Inflammation in the small joints of the wrist and hand is typical. If a joint on one side of the body is affected, the same one on the other side is usually affected too.
Who is more likely to get rheumatoid arthritis?
Ans: Rheumatoid Arthritis is more common in women than men: but men tend to have more severe symptoms. It usually happens in middle age, but young children and the elderly also can get it.
What causes Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Ans: The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown. It is thought to be due to a combination of genetic and environmental and hormonal factors.
Is there any cure for rheumatoid arthritis?
Ans: There is no cure but there are a number of medications available to help ease symptoms, reduce inflammation and slow progression of the disease. No one drug works for everyone but many people find treatments that are very effective. The goal of treatment is remission, a state when inflammation is gone or is very low.
How does one manage rheumatoid arthritis?
Ans: Self management is an important part of rheumatoid arthritis care. Staying physically active is the key to keeping joints flexible. Too little movement can lead to joint stiffness. Strong muscles protect joints. Overall fitness improves health in many ways. Managing your weight, eating a nutritious diet and getting a good balance of rest and activity each day are important too.
Your prognosis will depend on many factors, such as whether you test positive or negative for the protein called rheumatoid factor. Other factors that affect prognosis include your age at time of diagnosis, overall health, and whether or not you develop complications. Making the right lifestyle choices and adhering to your treatment plan can make a big difference.