Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a common form of arthritis, involving inflammation in the field of lining of joints, leading to warmth, decreased range of motion ,swelling and pain in the areas around joints. 

The cause is not yet known, although we do know the immune system plays an important role in the inflammation and joint damage that occurs.Genes play an important role in the development of RA.

Symptoms:  May vary from person to person. In almost all the people who have RA, joint symptoms change daily. In some people, the disease may be mild with periods with activity (worsening Joint inflammation) called“FLARES”

If you have RA, you will likely experience inflamed joints that are warm, swollen, tender, often red and painful, and difficult to move. 

 People with RA develop inflammation of the linings that surround the heart (Pericarditis) and lungs (Pleuritis) or inflammation of the lung tissue itself. Dryness of the eyes and mouth due to inflammation of tear glands and salivary glands (Sicca syndrome or Sjorgen’s syndrome) is also occasionally seen.  

RA Diagnosis

  1. The doctor will look for certain features of RA, including swelling, warmth and limited motion in joints throughout your body, as well as nodule or lumps under the skin.
  2. The doctor also may recommend certain blood tests and X –rays. The presence of an antibody called Rheumatoid Factor (RF) may indicate RA, but RF is also found in many people who don't have RA. A positive test for antibodies to cyclic citrullinated peptide (CCP) can also help diagnose RA.

 Because there are more than 100 forms of rheumatic diseases, often referred to as arthritis the diagnosis and management of RA require the expertise of a specialist. All people with RA should be treated by a Rheumatologist.

Treatment of RA:  

Currently, there is no cure for RA.However, highly effective treatments exist, and early treatment is critical to prevent  damage. 

Treatment Methods include medication and life style modifications focused on relieving pain, reducing inflammation, stopping or slowing joint damage, and improving patient function and well-being.

Medications Used:  

Two types 

  1. Those that can help relieve symptoms and reduce inflammation &
  2. Those which can modify the disease or put in remission.

Symptomatic Medications: 

are NSAIDs, Analgesics, and Corticosteroids. 

Disease-Modifying Medications (DMARDs) :

 Methotrexate, Hydrocychloroquine, Sulfasalazine, Leflunomide, Azathioprine, Cyclosporine & Biologics.  

 Physical and Occupational therapists: 

Physical therapists evaluate your special needs and teach you how to exercise appropriately for joint mobility, muscle strength and aerobic fitness. 

Joint Surgery Option: If you experience prolonged pain and disability caused by severe joint damage, you may think about total joint replacement to help you maintain independence.

Can DIET help Control RA?

scientific studies have not proved that diet changes either cause or relieve symptoms of RA. 

  • Studies do show that omega-3-fatty acids , when taken in sufficient quantities, can modestly reduce RA inflammation. 
  • All patients with RA, and particularly those taking corticosteroids, should take calcium supplements and a multivitamin containing vitamin D. Smoking makes you more likely to get RA.

How can you Best manage RA

Medications, rest, Physical Activity and self-management skills are the best combination of relieving symptoms, but focusing on the positive aspects of life can also help. Early use of disease-modifying medications is essential to good- long term outcomes. 

                 Treatment of RA requires Life –Long management.