Occasionally, joint pain is regarded as an aging process and neglected, or the disease is nurtured by self-treatment with wrong methods such as unproven folk remedies.
Because there are various causes of joint pain, it is possible to treat without leaving any sequelae if you receive a professional diagnosis and receive appropriate treatment at an early stage.
“Degenerative arthritis treats only damaged joints depending on the severity of the disease, but rheumatoid arthritis is caused by inflammation caused by abnormalities in the immune system,” said Choi Ji-young, a specialist in rheumatology at H Plus Yangji Hospital. If taken care of, it can affect the whole body and cause joint deformation and serious sequelae, so special attention is required.”
▶ ‘Autoimmune disease’ in which my immune cells attack me
Rheumatoid arthritis, one of the causes of joint pain, is an autoimmune disease that occurs due to an abnormality in the immune system due to various factors such as family history, irregular lifestyle, and stress, although the exact cause of the disease is unknown. Various symptoms appear as the immune system, which protects our body by attacking external threat factors such as bacteria and viruses, malfunctions and attacks its own tissues.
Among autoimmune diseases, in rheumatoid arthritis, immune cells attack the synovial membrane. The synovial membrane is a thin membrane that surrounds the joint cavity and secretes a synovial fluid called synovial fluid to reduce friction to protect the joint and make it move smoothly. Chronic inflammation causes joint damage, pain, and heat.
In the past, autoimmune diseases were considered a rare disease, but recently, the incidence has increased due to environmental factors such as lifestyle changes and stress. In fact, according to data from the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service, more than 250,000 people are diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (disease codes M05 and M06) every year, and there are three times more women than men.
In particular, the risk of various complications is high. According to the results of a study by the Korean Rheumatology Society, 26% of rheumatoid arthritis patients suffer from comorbidities such as cardiovascular disease, 15% endocrine disease, and 5.6% respiratory disease. 40% died from cardiovascular disease.
▶ Different treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and degenerative arthritis
The characteristic symptom of rheumatoid arthritis, which is different from degenerative arthritis, is stiffness in the hand joints in the morning or ‘early stiffness’ that lasts for more than an hour. In addition, although it can occur in any joint, it mainly appears in relatively small joints, such as fingers, toes, wrists, and elbows, symmetrically or multiple. It may also be accompanied by systemic symptoms such as fatigue and loss of appetite.
Degenerative arthritis occurs locally in joints that receive a lot of body load, such as the knee and hip joint, and is caused by aging or obesity. Depending on the degree of arthritis progression, a variety of treatments can be applied, including drug/injection therapy, endoscopic therapy, and artificial joint replacement surgery.
On the other hand, rheumatoid arthritis can appear at any age, and there are many patients in their 30s and 50s. Early diagnosis and treatment are important because the initial joint damage progresses quickly and if the symptoms are left untreated, fatal complications may appear by invading major organs such as the lungs, heart, kidneys, and blood vessels along with joint deformation.
Choi Ji-young, a specialist in rheumatoid arthritis, said, “As there is no fundamental treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, we set up a treatment plan with the goal of preventing and minimizing joint deformation and aftereffects, and prioritize anti-inflammatory drugs that reduce pain and inflammation, and drug treatments that control immune cell functions. “It is important to do strength training, aerobic exercise, and a balanced diet to protect joints along with treatment.” By Jang Jong-ho, reporter [email protected]