Friday, December 4, 2015

Rheumatoid arthritis

What is rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis, abbreviated as RA is an autoimmune disorder, characterized by inflammation and pain in the small joints of hands and feet. This condition specifically affects the lining of the joints, causing the synovium to thicken, resulting in inflammation and pain in the neighbouring areas.

What causes rheumatoid arthritis?

The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not fully understood. However, clinicians believe that an abnormal immune response plays an important role in the development of RA. An abnormal immune response causes the synovium in the joints to thicken, which gradually destroys the bone and cartilage of the affected joint. Such series of events give rise to pain and can eventually cause loss of alignment and shape of the joints.

How does topic spread?

RA is not a contagious disease and does not spread from one person to another.

What are the symptoms of Rheumatoid arthritis?

Individuals with RA experience the following signs and symptoms:

  • Swelling in the joints which are tender and warm to touch
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Development of rheumatoid nodules, characterized by small bumps beneath the skin on the arms
  • Morning stiffness that lingers on for hours
What is the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis cannot be cured. However, the disease can be managed well with medications and therapies. In severe cases, surgery may be required when the joints undergo severe damage. The following methods are employed for treating rheumatoid arthritis:

  • Medications such as NSAIDs, steroids, biological agents and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs are employed for managing the symptoms of RA.
  • Therapy: Individuals are referred to a therapist for exercise training in order to keep the joints in a good state. The therapist would also teach the individuals modified ways of performing daily tasks that would exert less pressure on the joints.
  • Surgery: This is usually the last resort and employed only when the other modes of treatment have failed to bring about the desired effect.
How can rheumatoid arthritis be prevented?

There is no way to prevent rheumatoid arthritis. However, by managing its risk factors, the chances of developing the disease can be reduced to a great extent. In some cases, it has been seen that smoking has been associated with the development of RA. Therefore, avoiding tobacco smoking can help in preventing the disease.

Diet and lifestyle changes in rheumatoid arthritis?

Individuals with RA should make exercise a regular part of their life. Exercising regularly will keep their joints flexible and healthy. It is also necessary to avoid gaining weight, and therefore a high calorie diet should be avoided. When the pain is severe and the joints are warm, swollen, and tender to touch, it is better to take rest and avoid unnecessary activity. Exerting the joints would further aggravate the condition and cause the symptoms to flare up.

What is Ayurvedic treatment of rheumatoid arthritis?

Various Ayurvedic treatment methods have been found to be extremely beneficial in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. These include langhana, shodhana and shaman chikitsa. The methods mentioned are based on the principle of fasting (langhana), followed by purification of the body (shodhanachikitsa) and ends with the treatment of the symptoms (shaman chikitsa).

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