This article contains medical terminology. For a description of Rheumatoid Arthritis in a more easy to read version, see here.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic systemic inflammatory disease caused by an autoimmune response. It has a higher incidence in women than men, affecting all ages but with higher prevalence in older age groups. Due to the condition constantly going through remission and exacerbations there is an ongoing progression of damage to the joints. The severity of the condition depends on the rate of progression, how many joints are affected, the degree of inflammation, and the time period of inflammation acute episodes. The condition usually starts in smaller joints such as in the fingers or toes, and progresses to the wrists, elbows, knees and cervical spine. The inflammation affects joints symmetrically and bilaterally. The joint pain is generally worse at rest; however mobility and daily activities can aggravate the joint causing more pain. Being autoimmune in nature, this disease has a cycle of symptoms and disruptions in physiology.
An abnormal immune response triggers inflammation in the synovial membrane of a joint, causing vasodilation and an increase in exudate which then results in swollen and painful joints. An antibody against immunoglobulin G, amply named Rheumatoid factor (RF) is present in the blood and in the affected joints of sufferers. This antibody triggers the inflammatory response. After the initial acute flare up, the joint may appear to return to normal and the inflammation mild, however during subsequent periods of inflammation, damage to the joint increases. During repeat acute inflammation episodes a few things happen to further cause injury to the joint:
- Synovial cells proliferate causing synovitis.
- A Pannus is formed- a pannus is a granulation material that releases enzymes and inflammatory mediators that erode articular cartilage.
- The Pannus blocks nutrients from getting to the joint causing more erosion and creating joint instability.
- After a while the Pannus eventually becomes fibrotic and hardens calcifying the joint space and drastically restricting movement.
- As a result of the Pannus, joint ankylosis (fixation) occurs and the joint becomes fused together.
During this process, there is an atrophy of the disused muscles surrounding the joint, and the ligaments and tendons stretch, further limiting support around an already unstable joint. The joint alignment changes depending on where the cartilage has worn the most, and the balance of surrounding antagonistic muscles is distorted. Deformities may occur such as ulnar deviation, swan neck deformity, and boutonniere deformity in the hands. The inflammation not only affects the joints, other systemic issues can arise as a result. Granulomas may appear in the heart, pleura, or eyes. The excessive immune factors circulating the body can also cause malaise, fatigue, anorexia, fever, and anaemia.
What are the treatment options?
Diagnosis is determined using selection criteria of symptoms determined by the American Rheumatism Association. An example criteria is the inflammation of three joints for a minimum of 6 weeks. Physical therapy is an important treatment during flare ups and remission to prevent further damage, and to maintain muscle strength and mobility. Other treatments include pain control medications, NSAID’s, glucocorticoids, and immunosuppressants. In some cases, during acute episodes the use of splinting and using assistant devices and braces can aid in maintaining correct alignment and body mechanics. In severe cases, surgery may be recommended to remove the Pannus, or to replace the joint.
Can Nubax Trio help?
By separating the vertebrae, Nubax Trio can improve blood supply to the joints of the spine. This enables more nutrients to be delivered to the joint spaces and promotes healthy cartilage development. Nubax Trio also correctly positions the body by aligning the spine with the hips and shoulders. By correcting any deviated alignment, Nubax Trio can help with proper physical mechanics. It is recommended to seek medical advice if you are unsure of the safety of spinal traction in your specific condition.