Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a long-term condition that leads to inflammation of the joints and surrounding tissues. RA most likely occurs by a combination of certain factors, including an abnormal autoimmune response, genetic susceptibility, and some environmental or biologic trigger, such as a viral infection or hormonal changes. According to the Arthritis Foundation, the condition affects an estimated 1.5 million Americans. Women are affected three times more than men. The usual age for adult onset is between 40 and 60 years, but it can begin at any age, even in childhood. RA most commonly affects the joints of the hands, feet, wrists, elbows, knees and ankles.
A recent study published in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases found that people with rheumatoid arthritis may be at increased risk for kidney disease and thus require close monitoring.
Researchers observed 813 people with rheumatoid arthritis and an equal number of people without the condition. Over 20 years, the rheumatoid arthritis patients had a 25 percent risk of developing chronic kidney disease, compared to a 20 percent risk for those in the general population.
The research shows that the risk factors include more severe inflammation in the first year of rheumatoid arthritis, corticosteroid use, high blood pressure and obesity.
The study also suggests that physicians should test patients with RA periodically for signs of kidney problems. Patients should also work to keep blood pressure under control, avoid a high-salt diet, and eliminate medications that damage the kidneys. Researchers also noted that rheumatoid arthritis patients with chronic kidney disease may be at increased risk for heart disease.
Early diagnosis and prompt treatment are crucial to preventing joint destruction and organ damage. Alternative treatment methods are found effective in controlling arthritis pain. Alternative treatments for arthritis include – glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane), hyaluronic acid joint injections, anti-inflammatory diet, topical analgesics and electrotherapies – TENS units, IFC, and GS.