Connective Tissue Disorder

Yoana Mendoza Sosa

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease in which our body’s immune system – which protects our health by attacking foreign substances like bacteria and viruses – mistakenly attacks our joints. The abnormal immune response causes inflammation that can damage joints and organs, such as the heart.

Symptoms

Symptoms can change from day to day. Sudden increases in symptoms and illness are called flares. A flare can last for days or months. Key rheumatoid arthritis symptoms are pain, fatigue and warm, swollen, reddish joints. Long periods of joint stiffness in the morning are common. Inflammation in the small joints of the wrist and hand is typical. If a joint on one side of the body is affected, the same one on the other side is usually affected, too.

Pathogenesis

Distinct mechanisms regulate inflammation and matrix destruction, including damage to bone and cartilage. Given the heterogeneous response to therapy, it is clear that RA in not just a single disease; instead, many pathways can lead to autoreactivity with similar clinical presentations.The pathogenesis of RA is reviewed here. The etiology of this disorder, including putative genetic and environmental factors, is discussed separately.

Diagnosis

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) in the early stages can be difficult. There is no single test that can clearly identify rheumatoid arthritis Instead, doctors diagnose rheumatoid arthritis based on factors that are strongly associated with the disease.

Management

Rheumatoid arthritis primarily is a clinical diagnosis. Patients commonly present with pain and stiffness in multiple joints, although one third of patients initially experience symptoms at just one location or a few scattered sites

Prognosis

Pain, swelling, and redness are common joint manifestations. Although the causes are unknown, RA is believed to be the result of a faulty immune response. RA can begin at any age and is associated with fatigue and prolonged stiffness after rest. There is no cure for RA, but new effective drugs are increasingly available to treat the disease and prevent deformed joints.

Epidemiology

Several risk factors have been suggested as important in the development or progression of RA. These include genetics, infectious agents, oral contraceptives, smoking, and formal education. Epidemiologic research is an essential contributor to our understanding of RA.