Patient Education

RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS (RA)

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

  • Rheumatoid arthritis is otherwise known as RA.
  • RA is the most common type of inflammatory arthritis.
  • The patients with RA experience pain, stiffness and swelling of the joints mostly in the early morning.
  • They have difficulty in making fisting of hand in the early morning after getting up from the bed.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

  • Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease.
  • Autoimmune disease means own immune system got dysregulated and attacks different part of the body.
  • In RA, the own immune system of human body mistakenly attacks its own joints, resulting in inflammation (latin word, “inflammare”-light on fire) of the joints.
  • The exact reason for the disease is not completely yet understood and due to multifactorial such as gene, environment, infection and sometime dietary factors.
  • Sometimes the dental infection and smoking cigarette has contributing factors for the RA.

First of all-Rheumatoid arthritis is not a rare disease; rather it is one of the most common inflammatory arthritis.

  • Around 1 per cent population of the world are affected by rheumatoid arthritis.
  • People between the age 25-50 are likely to get affected by rheumatoid arthritis.
  • The disease is most common in women, with a ratio 3:1. For every 3 women affected by RA, you have one man who experiences the same.
  • There is a blind belief that RA runs through families which is not just correct.
  • RA is not hereditary, but genetic and environmental factors play a role in RA.

  • Pain, swelling and stiffness of the small joints of hand mostly in the early morning
  • Difficulty in making fist of the hand, brushing of the tooth, combing of the hair, opening of the water bottle , walking and getting up from the chair.
  • Can affect any joints of the body starting from temperomandibular joint, cervical spine, shoulder, wrist, small joints of hand, knee, ankle and small joints of the foot.
  • Sometime it will lead to deformity of the joint
  • Apart from joint it affects lung because of which patients complain of dry cough and breathlessness on walking.
  • It also involves eye, blood vessel and heart etc.
  • Quitting of smoking helps in improvement of the disease

  • RA can be diagnosed with proper complete history and good clinical examination.
  • Then blood test and radiological investigation were done to support the diagnosis and to initiate the treatment.

  • RA should not be diagnosed only based upon the blood test.
  • There should be patient’s history of joint stiffness and swelling mostly in the early morning.
  • Sometime special blood tests are needed to prognostication and classifying as seropositive or seronegative rheumatoid arhtirits depending upon Rheumatoid factor (RF) or Anti-Cyclic Citrullinated Peptide Antibody (anti-CCP) positivity or negativity respectively
  • Commonly blood tests are needed for management of RA :
    • Complete Blood Count (CBC)
    • C-Reactive Protein (CRP)
    • Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR)
    • Liver Function test (LFT)
    • Kidney Function test
    • Rheumatoid Factor (RF)
    • Anti-Cyclic Citrullinated Peptide Antibody (anti-CCP)

Radiologic test:
• X Ray-Chest,Hand
• Sometime USG or MRI of the wrist joint for early detection of RA

  • A woman’s pregnancy is not affected by rheumatoid arthritis, but women should avoid taking some medications (used for treatment of RA) during pregnancy.
  • Women should consult doctors regarding the types of medication they should take during pregnancy for controlling Rheumatoid Arthritis.