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Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most common rheumatic diseases (rheumatism). It is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks and damages its own tissues. It mainly affects the joints, but often other organs as well (it can have pulmonary, eye and neurological manifestations). Therefore, it is necessary to correctly diagnose and treat the disease in time.

The disease is also referred to as progressive polyarthritis. This name describes its chronic, long-term and gradually progressing course. Polyarthritis is characterised by the inflammation of several joints at the same time. The disease appears symmetrically on the joints on both sides of the body. There will be joint deformities which limit or completely prevent their proper function.

Signs and symptoms of arthritis

During ten years of the progressive form of the disease, up to 50% of patients become unable to work. Limited mobility can cause permanent disability. Women are affected up to three times more often than men. The first symptoms most often appear between the ages of 35 and 50.

Progressive polyarthritis has characteristic general manifestations. The development of the disease is often gradual; it is characterised by pain, fatigue, malaise and general weakness. Morning stiffness of the affected joints appears, which does not disappear even after warming up. The symptoms of the disease are manifested by swelling, heat and sensitivity of the joints to the touch, pain and reduced joint functionality. After some time, untreated inflammation results in irreversible joint damage.

Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis

Fortunately, thanks to the progress of science the view of RA is changing in the long term and early diagnosis and treatment can partially prevent the aforementioned destructive course.
The goal of treating rheumatoid arthritis is to relieve pain and control inflammation. Modern treatment of progressive polyarthritis aims to prevent the destruction of the joint and its deformation and to preserve its functionality and maximum mobility. Treatment of progressive arthritis is usually permanent and requires the use of a combination of drugs which modify the course of the disease (so-called DMARDs), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and glucocorticoids.

Constant rehabilitation and consistent, regular exercise of all joints is an absolute necessity. No less important is the modification of the health regimen, including weight loss, lifestyle improvement and a diet focused mainly on fruits and vegetables.

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