February 2nd is Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Day and 3D4Medical made a video explaining more about the condition.
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Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where a person's immune system attacks and points to the healthy connective tissue that surrounds the joints in the body.
It affects approximately 1% of the population.
Rheumatoid arthritis most commonly affects people between the ages of 30 and 60, however the onset can occur at any age.
Women have more than twice the chance of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Other risk factors include having a close relative with rheumatoid arthritis and smoking.
When the immune system attacks the connective tissue surrounding a joint, this causes inflammation. Patients experience swollen, stiff, painful joints that can feel warm. Symptoms are worse in the morning and after periods of inactivity.
The most common joints affected are the small joints of the hands, feet and ankles, however the larger joints may also be affected. Symptoms usually occur symmetrically on both sides of the body.
This initial inflammation can lead to long term damage to joints and joint deformities, so early management is key.
People living with rheumatoid arthritis experience "Flare Ups" for more severe symptoms that can last from a few days to a month.
Rheumatoid arthritis is primarily administered with drugs directed to the immune system, which aim to decrease inflammation and damage to joints. Other medications are given for the initial relief of symptoms however these do not combat the progression of the disease.
Intramuscular injections can relieve symptoms, especially during outbreaks.
If the condition is allowed to progress, it can lead to permanent joint damage consisting of cartilage destruction and bone erosion. Depending on the severity of joint damage a patient may choose to make use of joint replacement surgery that serves to relieve pain and increase mobility of the joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis is known to cause fatigue – however, staying active is shown to benefit patients. Regular low impact exercise can strengthen muscles and keep healthy connective tissue providing better protection against flare ups.
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Video credits to 3D4Medical YouTube channel