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Rheumatoid Arthritis(RA)

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which is a chronic, systemic, inflammatory and unexplained disease, occurs in all races and ethnic groups all over the world. Its prevalence is approximately 1%. Although it can start at any age, it occurs mostly between the ages of 20 and 60. Women are more likely to develop this disease.

What are the symptoms?

RA usually shows a slow, insidious onset that lasts weeks to months. Joints are usually involved symmetrical. In the morning, the joints are stuck. In fully established rheumatoid arthritis, it takes more than an hour for morning stiffness to pass. The joints are swollen and sensitive to touch. In the later stages of the disease, deformities occur in the joints. Chin, neck, shoulder, elbow, hand, hips, knees and feet are the most common places of involvement. Rheumatoid arthritis may be accompanied by osteoporosis.

How is it diagnosed?

Diagnosis is made by supporting the findings of the examination with X-ray and laboratory tests. Laboratory examinations cannot make a definite diagnosis, but help the physician to confirm the diagnosis, determine the severity, course and treatment of the disease.         

Can rheumatoid arthritis be treated?

The course of the disease can be slowed down or stopped by patient education, physical therapy, exercise, devices, medications, and sometimes surgery. The earlier the treatment starts, the greater the success. In rheumatoid arthritis, two types of drugs are used. (1) Drugs that only relieve the symptoms. These are aspirin-like drugs. Symptoms disappear while taking the drug, when it stops, it begins again. For this purpose, low dose cortisone can be given. Low doses of cortisone given under the supervision of a physician is of no concern. The problem with the cortisone occurs when it is used randomly without being under the supervision of a physician. (2) Basic drugs. These are drugs that stop the course of the disease or treat it completely. They should be used under control for a long time (months or years). In rheumatoid arthritis, methotrexate, sulfasalazine, hydroxychloroquine, leflunomide, biological agents (etanercept, infliximab) are used for this purpose.