This condition is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks a thin tissue that lines the joints called synovium. The attack causes fluid buildup and pain body wide. There is no cure for this chronic disease but the nature of the disease is cyclical with periods of remission and flare ups.
Symptoms may include joints that can be warm to the touch, decreased range of motion, swelling of the joints. One point with Rheumatoid Arthritis is that if the right knee has the disease, so will the left. And because the condition is body wide, one might experience fatigue, loss of appetite, low grade fever and anemia.
Unfortunately, this disease is progressive. The damage caused by this disease to the membrane of the joints can cause deformity and disability. Lumps usually develop in the joints of the fingers, spine or heels. Over the course of time it can also damage organs.
Of the nearly 1% of the population that has this chronic disease, women are three times more likely to be effected than men. Women are generally diagnosed between the ages of 30 to 60 and men are generally not afflicted until late in life. Unfortunately, the cause of the disease is unknown except that it is thought to be a combination of genetics and surroundings.
As with all diseases and illnesses, a doctor must be the one to diagnose it. Some of the tests that could be used to test for this condition include the following: 1) Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (screen for inflammation); 2) Complete Blood Count (CBC) (elevated white cells could mean inflammation); 3) Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Factor (high levels are found in 80 to 90% of patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis); 4) Antinuclear Antibody (ANA) (checks for autoimmune disorders); 5) C-Reactive Protein (CRP), Quantitative (a test for inflammation); and/or, 6) Lyme IgG/IgM Antibodies (Lyme disease can mimic Rheumatoid Arthritis).
Written by Theresa B. Tannich, Special Projects, DirectLabs®, LLC February 28, 2012.