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Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Day 2024: Exploring the Background, Importance, and Indicators of this Chronic Condition

World Rheumatic Arthritis Day is observed annually on February 2, aiming to enhance awareness about rheumatoid arthritis—an inflammatory condition impacting the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an alternate term for rheumatoid disease, is an autoimmune disorder wherein the body erroneously targets and harms the joint lining, mistaking it for foreign substances.

This results in pain and inflammation. While it can affect individuals of any age, gender, race, or ethnicity, women are more susceptible, being 2.5 times more likely than men. The most prevalent age group affected falls between 20 and 50 years old. On this occasion, let's delve into understanding its signs and symptoms.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Day

In 1858, Alfred B. Garrod coined the term "rheumatoid arthritis," distinguishing it from osteoarthritis. Prior to this, the conditions were often confused. Traditional therapies like bloodletting and lye were once prevalent. Promisingly, heavy metal-containing drugs emerged. Painkillers became widely accessible only after 1949. Methotrexate treatments debuted in 1988, although relapses persisted.

In 2011, the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation was established by patients to heighten public awareness and educate on available treatments. In 2013, the organization initiated Rheumatoid Awareness Day to debunk common misconceptions about the disease. This journey highlights historical breakthroughs, evolving treatments, and ongoing advocacy efforts.

Indications and Manifestations of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a unique form of arthritis, typically affects smaller joints like those in the wrist, fingers, and foot. Accurate diagnosis and effective treatment hinge on recognizing its distinct characteristics. In RA, the immune system deteriorates, prompting white blood cells to attack joint linings. This autoimmune response induces inflammation, resulting in joint discomfort and swelling. Dr. Girish Kakade, Rheumatologist at Sahyadri Super Speciality Hospital in Pune, emphasizes the importance of comprehending RA's immune foundation for tailoring appropriate treatment strategies.

Speaking with HT Digital, Dr. Girish stressed the need to consider various indicators when detecting rheumatoid arthritis. Patients typically undergo joint inflammation, primarily in the hands, fingers, feet, and knees, resulting in pain, tenderness, swelling, warmth, redness, and stiffness. Morning stiffness lasting over 30 minutes, weakness, joint edema, exhaustion, fever, and appetite loss are also common.

Dr. Girish emphasized that RA often impacts multiple joints, with smaller ones in the wrists and specific hand and foot joints being early targets. Beyond joints, RA can affect organs like the eyes, lungs, blood vessels, heart, and kidneys. Timely diagnosis and proper treatment can prevent long-term complications.

Dr. Girish highlighted the susceptibility of younger individuals to rheumatoid arthritis (RA), impacting the wrists, fingers, and feet significantly. RA's characteristic symptoms, including fatigue, morning stiffness, and chronic pain, stem from the immune system mistakenly attacking joint linings. Emphasizing that RA isn't exclusive to the elderly, Dr. Girish urged considering a broader age range in diagnosis and treatment.

Understanding unique joint involvement patterns and the immune system's role in RA facilitates accurate diagnosis and treatment of arthritic disorders, even in individuals as young as 50 or 60.

Sources- Hindustan Times



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