The onset of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms are gradual

The onset of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms are gradual Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms are an indication of a chronic (long-term) inflammatory disease that primarily affects the joints and surrounding tissues, but can also affect other organ systems.

The cause of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is unknown. However, RA involves an attack on the body by its own immune cells (auto-immune disease). Different cases may have different causes. Infectious, genetic, and hormonal factors may play a role.

Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms can occur at any age, but they begin most often between the ages of 25 and 55. The disease is more common in older people. Women are affected more often than men. Approximately 1-2% of the total population is affected.

The course and the severity of the illness can vary considerably.

The onset of the disease is usually gradual, with fatigue, morning stiffness (lasting more than one hour), diffuse muscle aches, loss of appetite, and weakness. Eventually, joint pain appears, with warmth, swelling, tenderness, and stiffness of the joint after inactivity.

RA usually affects joints on both sides of the body equally -- wrists, fingers, knees, feet, and ankles are the most commonly affected.

When the synovium (the lining of the joint) becomes inflamed, it secretes more fluid and the joint becomes swollen. Later, the cartilage becomes rough and pitted. The underlying bone is eventually affected. Joint destruction may begin, often within 1-2 years after the appearance of the disease.

Deformities result from cartilage destruction, bone erosions, and tendon inflammation and rupture. A life-threatening joint complication can occur when the cervical spine becomes unstable as a result of RA.

Other rheumatoid arthritis symptoms may point towards areas that do not involve the joints. Rheumatoid nodules are painless, hard, round or oval masses that appear under the skin, usually on pressure points, such as the elbow or Achilles tendon.

These are present in about 20% of cases and tend to reflect more severe disease.

On occasion, nodules appear in the eye where they sometimes cause inflammation. If they occur in the lungs, inflammation of the lining of the lung (pleurisy) may occur, causing shortness of breath and fluid accumulation in the lung.

Anemia may occur due to failure of the bone marrow to produce enough new red cells to make up for the lost ones. Iron supplements will not usually help this condition because iron utilization in the body becomes impaired. Other blood abnormalities can also be found, for example, platelet counts that are either too high or too low.

Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms can indicate Rheumatoid vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessels). This is a serious complication of RA and can be life-threatening. It can lead to skin ulcerations (and subsequent infections), bleeding stomach ulcers (which can lead to massive hemorrhage), and neuropathies (nerve problems causing pain, numbness or tingling).

Vasculitis may also affect the brain, nerves, and heart causing strokes, sensory neuropathies (numbness and tingling), heart attacks, or heart failure.

Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms can also indicate heart complications, commonly affecting the outer lining of the heart. When inflamed, the condition is referred to as pericarditis. Inflammation of heart muscle, called myocarditis, can also develop.

Both of these conditions can lead to congestive heart failure characterized by shortness of breath and fluid accumulation in the lung.

General Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms include :

  • Fatigue
  • General discomfort, uneasiness, or malaise
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low-grade fever
  • Joint pain, joint stiffness, and joint swelling -- often on both sides of the body
  • Joint pain may include wrist pain, knee pain, elbow pain, finger pain, toe pain, ankle pain, or neck pain
  • Limited range of motion
  • Morning stiffness lasting more than one hour
  • Deformities of hands and feet
  • Round, painless nodules under the skin
  • Skin redness or inflammation
  • Paleness
  • Swollen glands
  • Eye burning, itching, and discharge
  • Numbness or tingling

Treatment and prevention of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms

Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms usually requires lifelong treatment, including various medications, physical therapy, education, and possibly surgery.

Anti-inflammatory agents used to treat RA traditionally include aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), fenoprofen, indomethacin, naproxen (Naprosyn), and others.

These are widely used medications that are effective in relieving rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. However, the side effects associated with frequent use of many of these medications include life-threatening gastrointestinal bleeding and kidney damage.

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Similar drugs, called Cox-2 inhibitors, are now a mainstay of anti-inflammatory therapy because the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding is significantly lower. Currently, there are three available -- valdecoxib (Bextra), rofecoxib (Vioxx) and celecoxib

(Celebrex). However, Vioxx has just been withdrawn from the market due to serious its side effects .

The benefits of these medications on rheumatoid arthritis symptoms may take weeks or months to be apparent. Because they are associated with toxic side effects, frequent monitoring of blood tests while on these medications is imperative.

Other drugs that suppress the immune system, like azathioprine (Imuran) and cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan), are sometimes used in people who have failed other therapies. These medications, which are associated with toxic side effects, are usually reserved for severe cases of RA.

Corticosteroids have been used to reduce inflammation in RA for more than 40 years. However, because of potential long-term side effects, corticosteroid use is usually limited to short courses and low doses where possible. Side effects may include bruising, psychosis, thinning of the bones (osteoporosis), cataracts, weight gain, susceptibility to infections, diabetes, and high blood pressure. A number of medications can be administered with steroids to minimize osteoporosis.

As you can see from this complicated picture, traditional treatment of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms have many toxic side effects, some still unknown to the public. It may be well worth your human condition to try a more natural approach.

For thousands of years, the Khoisan people of the Kalahari Desert (in Southern Africa) have used pure Harpagophytum Procumbens to treat painful joint conditions and other health problems. This fruit is also known as "Devil's claw" because of its claw-like shape.

Clinical studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of Devil's Claw in treating joint conditions like osteo-arthritis, fibrositis, rheumatism and small joint disease.

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