By: Prof. Dr. Seyed Saeid Zamanieh Shahri, MD and Prof. Dr. Sonia Sayyedalhosseini, MD
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic disease of the joints that causes symptoms such as pain, swelling, dryness and limited range of motion of the joints.
In this disease, in addition to the joints, other parts of the body are also involved, including: muscles, lungs, skin, eyes, peripheral nerves, and in some patients, there are also symptoms such as fatigue, weight loss, and a slight fever.
* This disease is three times more common in women than men.
Rheumatoid arthritis can occur at any age, but often begins in the 30s and 40s.
* Children and young people can also get this disease, in which case it is called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
The characteristics and symptoms of this disease in children are different from adults.
Common characteristics of rheumatoid arthritis:
1. This disease mostly affects the small joints of the hands and feet, these joints are involved symmetrically.
2. The symptoms of this disease in one person is different from another one and its severity varies from mild to severe.
Rheumatoid arthritis has a chronic course, which means that the patient has been involved with it for many years, and periods of severity or flare up and recovery or extinction are observed in these patients.
Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis:
The causes and factors of this disease are unknown, but we will state some theories in this regard.
1. Genetic factors in rheumatoid arthritis
Researchers have found that some specific genes which involved in immune function are associated with the disease.
2. Environmental factors in rheumatoid arthritis
Most scientists believe that there must be a factor that affects people who are genetically predisposed to the disease, but cellular and humoral immunity play a role in its development, and in some cases, factors such as infections, mycobacteria, mycoplasma and even viruses have been studied as causative agents.
3. Other factors in rheumatoid arthritis
Some other researchers believe that multiple hormonal factors may contribute to the disease, and the example they provide to prove this is that women are more likely to develop the disease than men.
The disease subsides during pregnancy and then flares up.
It is noteworthy that some patients, due to lack of sufficient and correct information, consider the cause of rheumatoid arthritis as the following factors:
1 Cold weather or climate change
2 Living in cold and humid areas
3 Lack or increase of vitamins and nutrients
4 High fat and blood sugar
5 Improper absorption or return of fecal matterial from the intestines
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
1. Joint symptoms
These symptoms can start slowly or suddenly, including: swelling, pain, and warmth of the affected joint, as well as pain and limited range of motion when moving the joint, pain when touching the joint, and morning stiffness in the joint.
Inflammation in the joints over time can lead to the destruction of articular cartilage, followed by bone wear and tear and deformity of the joint. Sometimes, the course of the disease and its conflicts can be very mild and affect a small number of joints.
2. Extra articular symptoms
These symptoms are symptoms that are seen in some people and are different for each person, including: fever, weakness, premature fatigue, anorexia, weight loss, nodules (bumps under the skin or rheumatoid nodules ), involvement of skin vessels and nerves, involvement of other organs such as kidney, spleen, liver, lung and etc.
Diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis In this disease, the specialist doctor, rheumatologist, examines the patient’s blood test and radiographs of the joints involved in the disease, makes the correct diagnosis and begins treatment.