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Rheumatoid arthritis



Presentation: Definition, symptoms and causes of rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease of the joints, affecting more frequently the wrist and the fingers joints.

It is characterized by severe pain, redness, swelling and stiffness of the joints involved and, in the most advanced stages, joint deformities, loss of function and disability.

Rheumatoid arthritis usually develops between ages 25 and 55 and is often characterized by flares of disease activity alternated with periods of improvement or remission. Sometimes the disease disappears on its own, although it is more common that RA lasts lifelong.

 Rheumatoid arthritis is referred to as an autoimmune disease, in which the immune system mistakes some components of the joint tissue for foreign substances and attacks them, leading to inflammation and destruction of the joints involved.
Although immune system dysfunction plays a major role in the development and progression of rheumatoid arthritis, other factors come into play as well, including the patientís gender and genetic makeup.

In fact, it has been shown that women are affected by RA two to three times more commonly than men.

In addition a particular gene has been identified that might be associated with a higher probability of getting the disease. Finally, some researchers have hypothesized that an infectious agent might play a role as a triggering factor in the development of RA, but this hypothesis still remains unproven.
Currently rheumatoid arthritis has no cure, but symptoms can be effectively managed and its progression can be slowed down or even stopped, especially when the disease is diagnosed early.

Treatment* options for rheumatoid arthritis

The symptomatic treatment for RA is directed at relieving joint pain, as well as at reducing or stopping inflammation and joint damage. Currently a variety of medications are available to achieve these goals, including:
1- Medications used to reduce both pain and inflammation, such as Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs or NSAIDs (aspirin and analogues)

 2- Analgesics used only to relieve pain, such as acetaminophen and opioid drugs (morphine and analogues)
 3- Medications used to reduce inflammation and joint damage, such as corticosteroids and a class of drugs called Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs or DMARDs (methotrexate, chloroquine and others)

 4- Medications used to modify the immune systemís inflammatory response, such as a class of drugs called Biologic Response Modifiers

 Usually these medications are used in combination with each other, but the specific treatment protocol greatly varies among patients, depending on the severity of the condition.
It is therefore the task of the doctor to determine the most appropriate treatment for each individual patient.

 When medical treatment alone is not sufficient to relieve joint pain and reduce joint damage, surgery may be considered as an option to improve joint function and give the patient a better quality of life.

There are many surgical procedures available at the moment that can effectively correct joint deformities, improve joint mobility and relieve joint pain. However, the specific surgical procedure selected for each patient varies depending on the extent, severity and location of joint damage, as well as on the individual health condition of each patient.

 Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease which usually requires long-term treatment (even lifelong).

If you would like to protect yourself or your family from unexpected medical conditions that may appear you can ask us for a free quotation; we will help you to choose the most appropriate International Healthcare plan.

 International Health insurance plans is an global Health Insurance broker. We have built excellent relationship with top International Health insurance providers. We offer free advice to choose your personalized Medical insurance over a wide range of International Healthcare plans. You may also contact us. Our quotation is totally free.

*Always seek professional medical advise from a qualified doctor before undergoing any treatment.

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