Rheumatism

21 Jun, 2022

Rheumatism is an umbrella term for different conditions that cause joint pain. It occurs due to several factors such as immune system disorders, which trigger the production of antibodies that attack joints, such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic Lupus erythematosus (SLE), psoriatic arthritis, Ankylosing spondylitis, and Bhagat's disease. Other factors include the runner's knee (Chondromalacia patellae) and the build-up of chemical form crystals, such as gout disease.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Rheumatoid Arthritis is a long-term autoimmune disorder that primarily affects joints. Usually, women are more likely to develop the condition than men (2:1). It occurs due to several factors, including smoking, certain infections, psychological factors such as stress- particularly in patients with a genetic predisposition- and other environmental factors.

It typically results in warm, swollen, and painful joints- mainly affecting smaller joints in your fingers and feet. As the disease progresses, symptoms often spread to the wrists, knees, ankles, elbows, hips, and shoulders. Symptoms include a sense of joint stiffness that is usually worse in the mornings and after inactivity. In some patients, it can also affect your eyes (dryness) and increases the risk of inflammation and scarring of the lung tissues.

One of the most popular diagnostic tests for RA is the Rheumatoid factor (RF) test, although it shows negative results in some patients. However, a positive effect of the Rf test does not necessarily imply having an autoimmune disease, especially when joints have no inflammation and swelling. In addition, positive RF results could sometimes show up in a person with no rheumatoid symptoms but with a family history of RA, old age, and developing certain infections.

There are many immune inhibitors to eliminate the activity of RA, such as methotrexate and leflunomide. However, if these drugs do not eliminate pain, doctors might resolve to biological response modifiers, a class of medications prescribed according to the patient's condition and activity.