10 Essential Facts About Inflammation and Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis affects over 1.3 million individuals in the United States. The symptoms of the autoimmune disease - including redness, swelling, joint pain and stiffness - are brought on by inflammation. Inflammation is known as the body’s normal reaction to a foreign invader, such as bacteria or a virus. However, in RA, the exact cause of inflammation is not quite fully understood. “We know that genes have something to do with rheumatoid arthritis inflammation, but there are still other factors we don’t completely understand” said Gerald S. Harris, a rheumatologist at the Lahey Clinic in Arlington, Massachusetts.
During an RA-related inflammatory response, the white blood cells release chemicals that heighten the quantity of blood flow to the affected joint. This, in turn, leads to painful joint symptoms. Some of the chemicals also cause the blood vessels to leak fluid inside and around the joint tissue, thereby triggering swelling and irritation of the nerves. The buildup of fluid inside the joint, combined with swelling and irritation of the nerves, leads to joint pain. As the synovium – the fluid found inside the synovial joints – increases and begins to thicken, the pain intensifies as well. At this point, the substances released by the inflamed cells begin to eat away at the joints and bones, resulting in severe pain, deformity, and loss of mobility.
Nowadays, what is known about RA is that the earlier the disease is diagnosed, the better the outcomes. It is important to stop RA from eating away at the joints and bones because once the damage is done, it cannot be reversed. The main objectives of RA treatments are to treat the underlying inflammation, hinder the damage that RA causes, and decrease the rate of progression. These treatments also reduce the risk of developing unwanted complications, such as heart disease and lymphoma.
Thanks to the availability of emerging medications, a significant amount of RA-related inflammation can be blocked, thereby decreasing the intensity of the disease and improving overall health. “We are still unraveling the mysteries of rheumatoid arthritis. One thing the research shows us is that when we do a better job of controlling rheumatoid arthritis inflammation, we do a better job of decreasing rheumatoid arthritis disability” said Harris.
Read on to learn more about Rheumatoid Arthritis.