Have you heard of Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease that can affect the entire body. Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms are divided into joint symptoms and non-joint symptoms. Non-joint symptoms changes include changes in the eyes, blood vessels, heart, nervous system… Rheumatoid arthritis cannot be prevented, but there are certain factors that can be avoided, such as smoking tobacco.

Of the joints, the small joints of the hands and feet are most often affected, and as the disease progresses, the range of motion is limited. Below, read everything about the symptoms, clinical picture, and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Also, get information about the importance of quality footwear in the treatment of this disease.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic disease that begins years before the first symptoms. Previously, it was thought that the onset of the disease was indicated by joint swelling, but today we know that this is not true. The pathological process on the cartilage begins in the synovium, the membrane that covers the cartilage. This membrane protects the cartilage and forms a protective sac that is filled with fluid. We call this fluid synovial fluid, and it nourishes the joints and brings oxygen and nutrients to the cartilage. In rheumatoid arthritis, the synovial fluid is filled with many inflammatory cells that create inflammation. The inflammatory infiltrate consists of lymphocytes, macrophages, mast cells, neutrophils… Cartilage is made of collagen and supports the joints with its mesh structure. Inflammatory cells contain enzymes that break down cartilage tissue, and a pannus is formed at the site of damage. The term pannus refers to an outgrowth made of synovial tissue that further creates new enzymes. They further worsen the situation by destroying collagen. Inflammation destroys the cartilage, causing swelling, pain, reduced mobility… In addition to the effects on the joints, we can find increased RF (rheumatoid factor) and CRP in the laboratory findings. Elevated CRP indicates an inflammatory state in the body. Rheumatoid arthritis not only affects the bones and joints but also the whole body.

Symptoms

Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms start gradually, most often they appear after an infection. A small number of people experience a sudden onset of the disease in which many joints are affected. Fortunately, only 15% of patients are in that group. In addition to affecting the joints, the disease can also affect the tendons and mucous bags of the joints. A subjective general bad condition, fatigue, sweating, constant slightly elevated body temperature, loss of appetite, weight loss, constant pain in the joints is often described… Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms are divided into joint and non-joint symptoms.

  • Joint symptoms – rheumatoid arthritis is primarily a disease of the joints. Morning stiffness is characteristic, especially in the hands. Stiffness is at its peak in the morning and loosens with exercise. The joints of the feet and knees are also less mobile in the morning. As the disease progresses, the stiffness lasts longer and longer, and pain also occurs. In the beginning, they appear only when pressure is applied, but later the pain is followed by swelling of the joint. Edema (swelling) is a sign of arthritis. The swellings are symmetrical, and the arrangement of the affected joints is also characteristic. Affected: metacarpophalangeal and proximal interphalangeal joints. The disease also affects the spine, especially the cervical spine. Most patients complain of pain and lower mobility of the cervical spine. On the legs, the knees and feet are affected, and in severe cases also the hips. The ankles of the feet become weakly mobile, swell, and bony deformations such as hallux valgus occur.
  • Non-joint symptoms – rheumatoid arthritis leaves its mark on the whole body. The most noticeable changes occur on the skin. Nodules are formed, they are painless, deep-seated, firm, and are formed at the point of pressure. Generally, they occur in patients with a high level of rheumatoid factor. If they are located near the tendons, they cause functional damage. The localization of the hands, especially the fingers, is very common. Blood vessels are also not spared, and vasculitis is formed. Vasculitis is an inflammation of blood vessels, which as a result creates ischemia, i.e., reduced supply of tissues with oxygen. Feet that are affected by ischemia are more susceptible to ulceration and necrosis. Episcleritis develops in the eye, which fortunately does not damage vision, but causes red eyes without exudate. Damage to the peripheral nerves is characteristic of the nervous system. Mononeuritis causes sensory and motor disturbances. Due to the increased inflammatory state, bones are fragile, more susceptible to fractures and generally lose mass.

A.A.
04.07.2022.