Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic systemic inflammation of several joints, which in time leads to deformation of the joint, its dysfunction and eventually destruction. Main location where inflammation process is the strongest is synovial membrane of the peripheral joints. Women get affected by this condition more often than men, but with old age, value of this ratio is reduced.
The cause of this condition remains unknown, but there are some theories that say that problems with the immune system might be the etiological factor. Rheumatoid arthritis starts gradually, with general symptoms such as exhaustion, tiredness, and appetite loss. Changes in the joints also come one step at the time and usually first to get affected are little joints in the hand (MCP joint) and pip joint. Signs of the inflammation are pain, swelling and dysfunction and they can be seen for the first time in meta tarsal phalanges joint. This inflammation can affect all other peripheral joints, including the hip, too.
Spine joints can get affected, but this happens rarely. Rheumatoid arthritis of atlantoaxial joint is the only condition of this type that happens a bit often (atlas and axis are the first two spine joints). Inflammation process in this situation can induce subluxation of the joint, dislocation of the joint parts and compression of the spine and the last one is the most dangerous complication of the rheumatoid arthritis. Therefore, it is important for this condition to be diagnosed as fast as possible, since that will ensure that the therapy starts right on time. Spine compression might lead to the problem of nerves and even paralysis might happen.
One of the additional symptoms of this condition is the morning stiffness. Synovial liquid inside the joint capsule leads to eventual deformation. Tendons can also be affected and that also causes problems with joint function. Besides, the changes in the joints, rheumatoid arthritis can be found in the system, too. Those changes affect capillary vessels, the smallest blood vessels and in that case this condition is called vasculitis. Rheumatoid nodules are also manifestation of this problem.
The treatment includes medicaments that are divided into symptomatic condition and those that change the course of condition. First group includes NSAILs and glucocorticoides. NSAILs have analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect, and after using these meds all the problems should go away. Using glucocorticoides induces anti-inflammatory effect, but these meds are not used that often, because there is a side effect that might occur and make the situation completely worse.