ANDn the first place to know if you have arthritis, we are going to put in context what this ailment is about. According to the Spanish Society of Rheumatology, rheumatoid arthritis “It is a chronic and autoimmune disease that produces inflammation of the joints, pain, deformity and difficulty in movement.“In addition, it can be considered a systemic disease if it manages to damage organs and systems such as the heart, kidney and lungs. It usually damages the hands and feet, elbows, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles.
causes of arthritis
The causes of the appearance of this disease are not yet known. What has been confirmed is that it is an autoimmune process, which means that it occurs because the immune system, which under normal conditions defends us from external agents such as bacteria or viruses and tumor cells, attacks the joints, causing inflammation and damage to them.
There are other aspects like tobacco, genetics, infections, periodontitis and obesity that can affect the appearance of this type of disease, but it is not known for sure. Viruses and bacteria have been studied and, although suggestive data has been found in some cases, there is still no evidence to confirm their involvement.
The disease begins slowly with general manifestations that other diseases present, such as fever or asthenia. In addition, it can be presented in many different ways. The main symptom of this disease is the involvement of the joints, which becomes evident through pain and inflammation. But there are other types of symptoms that could be called “secondary”:
- Joint stiffness or numbness after prolonged rest.
- Hard lumps in areas where the skin rubs, such as the elbows and the backs of the fingers and toes.
- Inflammation of the membranes that cover the lungs (pleurisy) or the lining of the heart (pericarditis).
- Dryness of the skin and mucous membranes.
If the disease is in an advanced stage, the person may have some deformity due to the progressive deterioration of the affected joints.
Currently, there is no treatment that can cure the pathology, but it can be controlled. The main goals of treatment are as follows:
- Reduce joint pain and inflammation.
- Delay or prevent joint damage.
Pain relievers and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are drugs that control only symptoms. But there are disease-modifying drugs that act on the cells and molecules that participate in immunity and, therefore, on the mechanisms that give rise to the different symptoms of arthritis. They can be divided into:
- Traditional: They continue to be the main treatment for this pathology. The most used are methotrexate, leflunomide and sulfasalazine.
- Biological: They are monoclonal antibodies or fusion proteins that block the action of some molecule or cell that plays a key role in arthritis. Among the most important are: adalimumab, etanercept, columumab, infliximab, abatacept, rituzimab, and tocilizumab.