What is Autoimmune Arthritis?

Autoimmune diseases attack your immune system and destroy normal cells. In conditions such as Autoimmune arthritis, the immune system attacks the linings of the bone joints. This could affect other body parts apart from joints.

Symptoms

  1. Deformed joints

  2. Dry mouth

  3. Difficulty sleeping

  4. Fatigue

  5. Weight loss

  6. Fever

  7. Anemia

  8. Reduced range of motion

  9. Chest pain when you breathe (pleurisy)

  10. Eye inflammation, dry eyes, itchy eyes, eye discharge

Risk factors

  1. Gender: women are more prone to autoimmune arthritis than men

  2. Age: RA can develop at any age, but most people begin to notice symptoms between the ages of 49 and 60 years.

  3. Family history

  4. Smoking

Diagnosis

Diagnosis can be difficult, as Autoimmune diseases share symptoms of many other disorders particularly in the early stages.

  1. Rheumatoid factor (RF) test

  2. Anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody test

  3. Blood count

  4. Erythrocyte sedimentation rate and c-reactive protein

  5. X-ray

  6. Ultrasound

  7. MRI scan

Treatment

Doctors will consider a person’s symptoms, the type of arthritis they have, and their overall health when recommending a treatment plan for autoimmune arthritis.

Medications

Some people with mild forms of autoimmune arthritis can benefit from taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs). These include ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve).

For other types of arthritis, a doctor may prescribe medications called disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs).

DMARDs include:

  1. Cyclosporine (Neoral)

  2. Sulfasalazine (Azulfidine)

  3. Methotrexate (Rheumatrex)

If DMARDs are not effective in treating autoimmune arthritis, a doctor may prescribe biologic response modifiers or “biologic agents.” These medications block immune system communications that can lead to the symptoms of autoimmune arthritis.

Biologic agents include:

  1. Abatacept (Orencia)

  2. Etanercept (Enbrel)

  3. Infliximab (Remicade)

Sometimes a person may take these medications in combination with DMARDs, especially methotrexate.

Medications can have side effects that cause complications on their own. DMARDs and biologics, for instance, are immunosuppressant’s that can leave people susceptible to infections.

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