Everybody progresses differently when it comes to rheumatoid arthritis (RA). It can be mild, moderate, or severe. After some period of suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, you will find out that your symptoms may no longer be the same with that sister or friend that has the same disease. Your symptoms depend mostly on the following:
- Your age at the time of diagnosis.
- How advanced your rheumatoid arthritis was at the time of diagnosis.
- How active your rheumatoid arthritis is.
Rheumatoid arthritis has no particular timeline for progression. However, it worsens if effective treatment is not administered. Most rheumatoid arthritis treatment succeeds in blocking the progression of the disease.
If your treatment blocks the disease from worsening, you will just have to take the time on your hands and put it into managing your symptoms. Here’s how rheumatoid arthritis progresses.
The Progression of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Even though the progression pattern in everyone is different, there are certain common patterns of progression which rheumatoid arthritis has maintained over the years. Here is a common progression pattern and its symptoms.
Long remissions: During this period, the pain and stiffness associated with rheumatoid arthritis suddenly disappear as soon as it appears. You must be careful if you are experiencing this as it is just the long remission period and doesn’t mean you are cured. Research has shown that about 5-10% of rheumatoid arthritis cases experience a sudden bout of RA symptoms which disappears as soon as it appears for some years or even decades.
Off and On symptoms: About 15% of rheumatoid arthritis cases complain of symptoms that come and go. You might experience a period of little or no problems in between flare-ups. These symptoms may disappear for some months and appear, then disappear again.
Progressive rheumatoid arthritis: If you are in this phase, you require an active team of medical personnel to put you on a long-term treatment regimen and help you to manage your disease and slow it down or keep it from worsening.
Now, let’s discuss the stages of rheumatoid arthritis
Stages of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
There are 4 stages of rheumatoid arthritis, each stage comes with its symptoms, burdens, and treatment options.
This is the early stage of rheumatoid arthritis. Most individuals who are in the first stage of rheumatoid arthritis experience symptoms such as:
- Joint pain,
- Swelling in the joint.
The inflammation of the joint is as a result of the swelling up of the joint tissues. At this stage, there are no damages to the bones. However, the joint lining which is also known as the synovium is swollen.
This is the moderate stage of rheumatoid arthritis. In this second stage, the cartilage in the joint is damaged by the inflamed synovium. The cartilage covers the ends of the bones at a joint and prevents friction between these bones. If you are at this stage, you might suffer joint pain and loss of mobility. At this stage, there is limited movement in the joints. Therefore the major symptoms here are; joint pain, loss of motion and swollen joints.
This is stage is considered the severe stage of rheumatoid arthritis. In this stage, the bones and not just the cartilage are damaged. The damage of bones is as a result of the wearing away of the cartilage which serves as a cushion for the bones against friction. The rubbing together of the bones causes gradual wearing away of the ends of these bones and later damages them. The joint pain in this stage is severe.
Stage 3 symptoms include; severe joint pain, unstable joints, loss of motion, and bone deformities.
This is the end stage of rheumatoid arthritis. There are no more inflammations in the joints because the joints no longer work. Here are some symptoms you might experience if your rheumatoid arthritis has gotten to stage 4.
- Reduced muscle strength,
- Stiffness and motion loss,
- Severe pain in the joints,
- Swelling of the joints might still occur,
- Damaged joints and fusion of bones (ankylosis).
The progression of rheumatoid arthritis may take many years. Most people do not go through all 4 stages of rheumatoid arthritis in their lifetime. Sometimes you might experience the absence of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. In most cases, this absence is your period of RA remission.
Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis.
There are different treatment options for different people as every rheumatoid arthritis case varies. Your healthcare provider will recommend a treatment plan that suits you best and this always depends on the following:
- What stage of rheumatoid arthritis you are suffering,
- Duration of your rheumatoid arthritis,
- The severity of symptoms,
- The degree of inflammation of the joints.
Managing rheumatoid arthritis might entail undergoing a surgery in the later stage to replace or fuse a joint together, remove the synovium or repair tendons. Different rheumatoid arthritis medications play different roles. Some of these drugs are; Biologic drugs, NSAIDs, steroids, Disease modifying antirheumatic drugs. Living a healthy lifestyle also helps with the management of rheumatoid arthritis. Certain lifestyle choices such as eating healthy meals, exercising and keeping stress in check are great ways to manage rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis once diagnosed should be put on a recommended treatment plan as early treatment can slow down or block progression. Any elisa kit company would be willing to aid your rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis with its elisa kits which can detect such medical conditions. Also, with the help of rabbit polyclonal antibody production, antibodies can be produced to improve the body’s immunity while it battles rheumatoid arthritis. Consult Bosterbio for further information on such diagnostic tests and BDNF elisa kits.