Early Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment: Why Is It So Important?

The chronic autoimmune condition rheumatoid arthritis (RA) differs from other forms of arthritis in that it affects the joints on both sides of your body. You can experience discomfort and inflammation in your fingers, hands, wrists, knees, ankles, feet, and toes.

The cartilage in your joints serves as a "shock absorber" and is damaged by unchecked inflammation. The joints can be distorted over time. Your bone itself erodes with time. It can result in your joints fusing (an effort of your body to protect itself from constant irritation).

Why does Rheumatoid Arthritis Develop?

Rheumatoid arthritis has an unclear cause. Its development could be influenced by factors such as hormones, genetics, and environmental factors.

Your immune system frequently protects your body from disease. When you have rheumatoid arthritis, your immune system attacks your joints for whatever reason. Smoking, an illness, or stress on the body or mind could all be triggers.

At what age can one Develop This Disease?

RA begins from age 30 to 60.

Rheumatoid Arthritis- Symptoms

Everyone is affected by rheumatoid arthritis differently. Some persons experience joint problems for a lengthy period. Some experience a quick progression of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. Many person experience flares of symptoms followed by periods with no symptoms.

Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms include −

  • Several joints may experience pain, edema, stiffness, and soreness.

  • Morning stiffness or sitting for a long time.

  • The same joints are painful and stiff on the sides of the body.

  • Fatigue.

  • Weakness.

  • Fever.

What are the Risk Factors Leading to the Development of RA?

Rheumatoid arthritis can occur for several reasons. They consist of −

  • Family history − If you have a close relative with RA, you are more likely to develop it.

  • Sex − Women have a two to three times higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

  • Smoking − Smoking increases chances of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

  • Obesity − People who are obese have more chances of getting this disease.

How to Diagnose RA?

You need to consult a doctor with specialisation in arthritis known as rheumatologist. Rheumatologists conforms to different methods for diagnosing the ailment in patients. The doctor will do physical examinations and ask about your health history and the ongoing symptoms. Blood testing and imaging studies are prescribed by your rheumatologist.

Blood tests are done for testing blood proteins (antibodies) and inflammation. These indicates rheumatoid arthritis. They may consist of −

  • Inflamed joints, as per the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), or the "sed rate."

  • C-reactive protein (CRP).

  • Rheumatoid factor (RF) is detected in about 80% of RA patients.

  • These patients have antibodies against cyclic citrullinated peptides (CCP).

Imaging studies are done to check for joint degeneration. RA leads to deterioration of the bones in the joints. The imaging tests could consist of −

  • X-rays.

  • Ultrasounds.

  • MRI scans, or magnetic resonance imaging.

Before determining that you have rheumatoid arthritis, your doctor may in some scenarios and decide to observe how you progress over time.

Why must RA Treatment Begin Immediately on Detection?

Although the pressure to start therapy right away may seem abrupt, there are good reasons to do so. There is an irreversible progression of joint deterioration. Even though your body tries to heal it, it never truly returns to normal. Numerous studies have demonstrated that occasionally, even before a person is officially diagnosed with RA, some of these changes can already be seen on X-rays and MRIs. It indicates that treatment should begin now.

What Medicines are Used for Treating This Disease?

Medicines that are prescribed by doctors for treating RA include NSAIDs, Biologic Agents, Steroids, Conventional DMARDs, and Targeted Synthetic DMARDs.

Is Therapy Helpful for Treating RA?

A physical or occupational therapist can provide you with instructions on stretches that will keep your joints flexible, so your doctor may advise you to do so.

A fresh, less taxing manner to complete everyday duties may be suggested by the therapist. You might wish to pick up something with your forearms, for instance.

It may be simpler to prevent straining your sore joints with the aid of assistive technology. For example, a kitchen knife with a hand grip helps safeguard your wrist and finger joints. Buttonhooks are one tool that can make getting dressed simpler. Look for inspiration in catalogs and medical supply stores.

What are the Surgical Options Available?

If medications are not useful, the surgical options available include Tendon repair, Joint fusion, Total joint replacement, and Synovectomy.

Lifestyle Changes and Early Treatment of RA

Doctors advise the following actions to enhance your health when diagnosed with RA.

  • Give up smoking − Smoking increases the likelihood of developing RA, and if you smoke while taking RA medications, the medications don't work as effectively - you tend to have more disease activity and more damage.

  • Engage in low-impact exercises − It goes away more quickly if you can get moving and combat stiffness. Yoga is beneficial because it incorporates both stretching and movement.

  • Losing weight − Your joints will be less stressed overall if you lose additional weight.

  • Modify your diet − An anti-inflammatory diet, according to many RA patients, has made their symptoms better. It is difficult to determine whether it reduces joint inflammation, but patients do report feeling more energized and with slightly greater mobility. It has a mild effect and is not a cure. But doctors advise trying it nevertheless.

Along with your rheumatologist, come up with the best course of treatment for you. Do not give up.


While quick action and intensive therapy may make perfect sense to professionals, beginning medications right away can feel overwhelming to people who have just received a RA diagnosis. People who don't want to be on something for the rest of their lives may be reluctant to take medicine. Yet medical professionals tell out that a medicine regimen isn't necessarily permanent. It depends on how the condition develops. While receiving treatment is never without danger, forgoing care also has significant risks.

Updated on: 07-Apr-2023


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