Rheumatoid arthritis-factor, symptoms, causes and treatment
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that predominantly affects joints. The disease is located in wrist, hand and feet joints mostly. Stem cell therapy follows under the new area of biological research that has the potential of treating Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). RA is a result of a problem with the immune system. The human immune system is responsible for the defence of the body. RA is a condition when the immune system mistakenly attacks the joints tissue linings considering them as foreign. It causes stiffness, pain and inflammation of joints. In sever condition; the patient may develop deformities of joints and physical disabilities. Stem cell treatment is a non-surgical, less painful option for rheumatoid arthritis treatment.
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
RA is very different from osteoarthritis. As osteoarthritis is wear and tear of joints, rheumatoid arthritis is a disease of joint tissues. Usually, arthritis symptoms display at later ages while rheumatoid arthritis can occur in people as young as 30 years and up to 60 years of age. Early signs and symptoms of Rheumatoid arthritis are very much like other joint conditions like:
- Joint aches, swelling and stiffness
- Tender, warm and swollen joints
- Fever and loss of appetite
- Morning stiffness of joints
Initially, rheumatoid arthritis tends to affect your smaller joints, particularly the finger and toe joints. Later on, rheumatoid arthritis starts affecting other organs like skin, nerves, kidneys and heart. The immune system starts considering other body organs like skin as foreign bodies and starts attacking them. Other symptoms that are depicted in the later stage of the disease include:
- Numbness and tingling of joints
- A decrease in the range of joints motion
- Loss of joint function
- Deformities of joints
These symptoms are worse in people who have low activity levels. Generally, the more active an individual, the less the symptoms of the disease will be.
Rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis
Rheumatoid arthritis treatment can begin after the proper diagnosis of the disease. Rheumatoid arthritis is a progressive disease that depicts almost the same symptoms as other diseases like osteoarthritis. The similarity in symptoms makes it difficult for your doctor to diagnose it in the early stages. Your doctor may suggest you perform a blood test and joint function test to observe swelling, tenderness and range of motion. During the physical examination, the doctor will check your joints for swelling, redness, tenderness and warmth. He may also check your reflexes and muscle strength. No single test can depict the prevalence of RA so your doctor may order multiple tests along with physical examination.
- A very important test is the rheumatoid factor test. Rheumatoid Factor is a protein produced by your body’s immune system. It can attack the healthy tissue in your body. A positive and higher-level RF suggests the severity and faster progression of Rheumatoid arthritis. But RF tests can’t be used to diagnose RA alone. Some people with Rheumatoid arthritis may test negative for RF, while other people without Rheumatoid arthritis may test positive for RF. RF test does not alone depicts the prevalence of rheumatoid arthritis.
- Another important test for the diagnosis is Anticitrullinated protein antibody test (anti-CCP) tests for an antibody associated with Rheumatoid arthritis.
- Antinuclear antibody test (ANA) is a general indicator of autoimmune diseases. An elevated level of this test could mean that your body’s immune system is attacking itself.
- X-rays depict the early deformities in joints and level of damage to cartilages and bones.
- MRI imaging helps in scanning the soft tissues, unlike the x-rays that show only bones and joints in the scan. MRI scan can detect inflammation due to RA earlier than an X-ray.
Causes of Rheumatoid arthritis
A healthy human immune system acts as a defence mechanism of the body. Your immune system usually makes antibodies that attack bacteria and viruses, helping to fight infections. However, when the immune system misfires and considers its own body organs and tissues as foreign bodies and start attacking them, its dysfunctioning is termed as Rheumatoid arthritis.
The factors that trigger RA are not explicitly known, yet some of the causes include:
Genetics: People with any family member (parents or siblings) are four times more likely to develop RA. However, it cannot be conclusively suggested that it is a hereditary disease. As many people develop Rheumatoid Arthritis without any close relative suffering from this condition.
Hormones: Women are three times more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than men. Researchers suggest that there is a direct proportionality of hormonal changes and RA, as women go through a lot of hormonal changes during childe bearing and later years.
Environment: Being exposed to a toxic environment like exposure to chemical, pollution, smoke and environmental changes may trigger the misfire of the immune system resulting in Rheumatoid arthritis.
Trauma: Any emotional and physical trauma or stress may lead to Rheumatoid arthritis. Physical injuries can aggravate a preexisting arthritic condition; an emotional trauma can also elicit RA.
Infection: Any viral or bacterial infection may cause the immune system to misfire and trigger the immune system against itself, leading to rheumatoid arthritis.
Lifestyle: There seems a strong association of smoking with Rheumatoid arthritis. There is a fair 25% increased chances of developing RA in people with a history of smoking. Also, unhealthy lifestyle may impact the immune system and its defence mechanism.
Rheumatoid Arthritis treatment
The main focus of the Rheumatoid arthritis treatment is to reduce inflammation, control the pain and reduce disability related to RA. The disease can be controlled by combining the medications that include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or disease-modifying treatments. The conventional treatments include:
Medications: Medications for Rheumatoid arthritis treatment aimed to reduce inflammation in joints linings and manage pain in the joints. These medicines usually include steroids to ease pain and stiffness and anti-inflammatory drugs to suppress pain and inflammation but do not slow down Rheumatoid Arthritis. So if you have severe RA conditions, you will probably also need to take other drugs to prevent further joint damage.
Surgery: If joint pain and inflammation become unbearable or severely damaged, and medications seem not affecting well the pain and inflammation, some people need joint replacement surgery. The most common joints that get replaced as a result of Rheumatoid arthritis are hips and knees. Surgery can improve pain and mobility but come with high risks.
Biologic agents: These are also known as biologic response modifiers, is a regular RA treatment that focuses parts of the immune system that aggravate inflammation which is causing joint and tissue deterioration. Such drugs also increase the risk of infections in patients.
Physical therapies: physical therapies as a rheumatoid arthritis treatment helps in improve joint mobility and help patient decrease inflammation of joints. They are a crucial part of any rheumatoid arthritis treatment plan. Physical therapists can help a patient to introduce exercises in daily life that ease pain and increase range of motion in joints.
Stem cell therapy for rheumatoid arthritis treatment
Stem cell treatment has opened new horizons for patients with autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis. The procedure is relatively new in Pakistan but has displayed improvements in patients who had almost no mobility in joints because of rheumatoid arthritis. Cells in the human body have specific said functions, but stem cells are cells that can become nearly any cell that is required. Stem cells can be derived from:
- Bone marrow
- Blood and blood vessels
- Umbilical cord
Rheumatoid arthritis causes inflammation in the lining between the joints. It leads to loss of the cartilage, which are the connective tissues that provide cushioning of the joints. Cartilage loss can affect the joint and nearby bone later on. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are types of stem cell that can develop into cartilage and bone. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are the cells derived from the Umbilical cord. MSCs are the type of stem cell that has shown potential for rheumatoid arthritis treatment. Studies show that these cells can suppress the immune system overactivity and can help control chronic inflammation. Clinical trials have shown improvements in patients suffering from RA. However, the patients with the condition need a proper evaluation of the intensity of the diseases before going through rheumatoid arthritis treatment.
Where can you get stem cell treatment?
Conventional rheumatoid arthritis treatments include anti-inflammatory properties and don’t prove long term results. Despite inducing temporary improvement, these approaches possess long-term adverse effects due to non-specific inhibition of immune responses.
Shifa Rejuvenation and Regenerative Clinic hit another landmark by introducing a revolutionary treatment for a disease with very fewer treatment options available. Clinical trials at Shifa Rejuvenation and Regenerative Clinic showed that MSCs produced a significant decrease in pro-inflammatory cytokines which are temporarily targeted by many current rheumatoid arthritis treatments without the long-term side effects. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are multipotent stem cells that can exert immune suppressing functions on both the intrinsic and the adaptive immune cells. Patients are required to get a proper evaluation of the diseases along with the tests and scan for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Patients with RA condition have shown improvement in a span of 6 to 8 weeks along with the regular follow-ups and precautions.
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