Monday, November 5, 2007

What is rheumatoid (room-a-toid) arthritis?

RA is an autoimmune disease. This means that your immune system attacks other parts of your body.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) causes redness, pain, swelling or a hot (or warm) feeling in the lining of a joint, the place where 2 or more bones come together.
This redness, pain, swelling and heat around the joint is called inflammation.
The inflammation may also affect other internal organs, such as the eyes, lungs, or heart.
RA can affect any joint, but the most common places are the hands or feet.

The body’s immune system attacks healthy joints. This causes inflammation in the lining of the joints. It can also affect other parts of the body, such as the eyes, lungs or heart. The inflammation can be painful. It can lead to permanent damage if the disease is not treated and controlled.

Joint damage can occur even in cases where the pain is not severe. It can happen even in the early stages of the disease. For many people with RA, damage has shown up on X-rays of the hands and feet within two years of the onset of the disease. But it may be too late to fix by the time X-rays discover the problem. One study found that damage got worse more quickly during the first two years, and 75 per cent of all damage happened in the first five years.

Severe damage can lead to permanent joint deformity and disability. It can cause so much pain and swelling that you may have difficulty walking. You may have trouble using your hands for routine activities, such as dressing and cooking.

What is psoriatic arthritis?

Psoriatic (pronounced sore-ee-at-ick) arthritis causes swelling and pain in joints. This is called inflammation. It also causes a scaly rash on the skin.
It usually affects the wrists, knees, ankles, fingers and toes. It can also affect the back.
Psoriasis (pronounced sore-eye-a-sis) is a skin disease that is linked with psoriatic arthritis.
Psoriasis causes a scaly skin rash on the elbows, knees and scalp.

Psoriatic arthritis is a condition that causes swelling and pain in and around the joints. It can affect a number of joints including the fingers, wrists, toes, knees, ankles, elbows and shoulder joints, the spine and joints in the lower back (called sacroiliac joints). Psoriatic arthritis also affects tissues surrounding the joints including tendons and ligaments. It may cause a swelling of the whole digit called “sausage” finger or toe. There is also skin inflammation, particularly on the elbows, knees and scalp. Psoriatic arthritis is linked to psoriasis, a disorder causing areas of the skin to become inflamed and be covered with silvery or grey scales.

What is juvenile arthritis?

Juvenile arthritis is a disease that occurs in children under the age of 16.
It causes pain, stiffness and swelling in one or more of the joints. This pain, stiffness and swelling is called inflammation. With juvenile arthritis the inflammation lasts longer than six weeks, and is not caused by an injury or other illness.
Juvenile arthritis may also be called childhood arthritis.

Chronic childhood arthritis, sometimes referred to as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis or juvenile chronic arthritis, is quite different from adult rheumatoid arthritis. In fact, many people have dropped the word 'rheumatoid' and now call chronic childhood arthritis juvenile arthritis, or JA.

JA is defined as continuous inflammation of one or more joints lasting at least six weeks for which no other cause can be found.

Looking at Surgery

Surgery may not be something any of us like to contemplate, but it is something some people with arthritis will have to consider. So, consider this: If you have advanced arthritis; if your life has become an endless round of medications for pain; if your ability to perform the simplest activities of daily life is steadily diminishing, surgery just might turn your life around.

'Surgery isn't an admission of defeat,' says Dr. David E. Hastings, Head of Orthopaedic Surgery at Toronto's former Wellesley Hospital, 'nor is it a last resort when all else fails.'

Surgery for arthritis is just one aspect of your overall treatment plan. Its primary purpose is twofold: to relieve pain and restore function. For many people with arthritis, surgery is like an answer to a prayer: a release from pain, and a renewed contract with life.

Green Tea vs. Rheumatoid Arthritis

A compound found in green tea may reduce inflammation and joint damage in rheumatoid arthritis.

So say scientists from the University of Michigan Medical School. They included Salah-uddin Ahmed, PhD.

Their preliminary lab tests show that the green tea compound EGCG may hold promise as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

The scientists studied joint cells called synovial fibroblasts that had been affected by rheumatoid arthritis.

First, the researchers treated some RA synovial fibroblasts with EGCG. For comparison, they didn't treat other synovial fibroblasts with EGCG.

Next, the scientists exposed both sets of synovial fibroblasts for 24 hours to an inflammatory chemical linked to RA.

The EGCG-treated cells produced lower levels of two other inflammatory chemicals than cells that hadn't been treated with EGCG. In fact, the highest tested dose of EGCG virtually halted production of those inflammatory chemicals during the experiment.

Further lab tests show that EGCG blocked a chemical chain reaction linked to inflammation and joint damage.

"The results from this study suggest that EGCG may be of potential therapeutic value in regulating the joint destruction in RA," write Ahmed and colleagues.

The study doesn't show whether drinking green tea has the same effect or how much green tea would be needed to achieve the results.

The findings were presented in Washington, D.C., yesterday at Experimental Biology 2007, an annual scientific meeting that includes several scientific societies.

Depression a Big Factor in Poor Health

Depression has a greater impact on overall health than arthritis, diabetes, angina, and asthma, but it all too often goes unrecognized and untreated, a report from the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests.

Based on interviews with almost 250,000 people living in 60 countries, WHO researchers found depression to be a greater predictor of poor health in patients with these chronic conditions than having one or more chronic medical conditions without depression.

People who had arthritis, diabetes, angina, or asthma were more likely to suffer from depression than people without these conditions.

And consistent across different countries and cultures, people with depression plus one or more of the chronic diseases included in the study had the worst overall health scores.

The findings, which appear in the Sept. 8 issue of The Lancet, illustrate the urgency of identifying and treating depression in patients with other chronic health problems and in the population as a whole, the WHO researchers conclude.

"We have to recognize that mental health is not a luxury. It is a necessity for good overall health," researcher Somnath Chatterji, MD, tells WebMD.

"Health care providers are so focused on the physical health of their patients that they often miss the signs of depression. But treating depression can have a big impact on overall health."


If you feel pain and stiffness in your body or have trouble moving around, you might have arthritis. Most kinds of arthritis cause pain and swelling in your joints. Joints are places where two bones meet, such as your elbow or knee. Over time, a swollen joint can become severely damaged. Some kinds of arthritis can also cause problems in your organs, such as your eyes or skin.

One type of arthritis, osteoarthritis, is often related to aging or to an injury. Other types occur when your immune system, which normally protects your body from infection, attacks your body's own tissues. Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common form of this kind of arthritis. Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is a form of the disease that happens in children.