Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemic inflammatory disease, chronic, autoimmune and. It is characterized by polyarticular symmetrical inflammation of small and large joints, with possible systemic involvement at any point in its evolution.
Specialists in rheumatology claim that this disease affects 0.5-1% of the Spanish population. Like most autoimmune diseases, rheumatoid arthritis occurs most often in women. It has a higher incidence between 40 and 60 years old.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: Causes
Due to the wide variety of mechanisms acting together or sequentially, the cause of rheumatoid arthritis is complex and not known exactly. Etiopathogenesis is considered that the result of the interaction of an antigen and trigger a genetic basis predisposing.
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
From the early stages of the disease, rheumatoid arthritis significantly affects the daily activities of people who suffer. In most patients the disease has a chronic fluctuating evolution, if left untreated follows a progressive course, causing destruction and inability of the affected joints.
The main symptoms at the onset of the disease are pain, morning stiffness, and inflammation of multiple joints. Morning stiffness is defined as "the slowness or difficulty moving the joints when getting out of bed or after staying in one position too long, which improves with movement".
Mainly it affects the metacarpal-phalangeal joints, proximal interphalangeal joints of the fingers, wrists and metatarsal-phalangeal joints of the toes. Other joints also often affected are elbows, shoulders, ankles and knees.
Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis
Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis should be directed to reduce inflammatory activity, prevent the progression of joint damage and its consequences. The ideal goal of treatment is to achieve remission of the disease or obtain the greatest possible control of the activity.
There are different types of modifying drugs progression of the disease, known as FAME: synthetic and biological. Biological DMARDs, subsequently sold to synthetic, represented a breakthrough in the management of rheumatoid arthritis.
Early treatment of rheumatoid arthritis with such drugs can induce remission in a significant proportion of patients, 50-60%, prevent the development of radiographic lesions or halt its progression. However there are up to 15-20% of patients in whom this treatment does not work; because you just lose their effectiveness over time or is associated with some side effects intolerable.
There are other biological or investigational drugs that are not yet approved in Europe and could have promising results. The development of cell and molecular biology in recent decades has led to progress in understanding the biological basis of rheumatoid arthritis and has been a radical change in the development of new therapies. Despite this progress, the therapies currently available are partially effective and high cost. Also, they are not without serious side effects, so that, together, can not be considered satisfactory treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and identifying new therapies are still needed.