Rheumatism: Early Identification, Treatment Key To Lasting Remedy 2



Differences Between Rheumatism And Rheumatoid Arthritis
Dr. Ima Edomwonyi, specialist rheumatologist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) spoke to GERALDINE AKUTU, on its management

It is commoner in women, occurring between between one’s 30th and 50th birthday.

Edomwonyi said that “It can occur in younger individuals. Patients with Rheumatoid Athritis (RA) have pain, stiffness and swelling, majorly in the small joints of the hands and feet; though it can occur in any joint. They find that their joint stiffness is worse in the mornings, but better as they go about their activities.”

On the causes of a rheumatoid arthritis flare, the expert said different factors may trigger flares of RA in different people. The most common triggers are infections (like the common cold), the post-partum period (a few weeks to a few months after a woman has delivered a baby), exposure to environmental toxins like cigarette smoke, physical trauma, and sensitivity to certain foods (the exact culprits are hard to identify).

A lingering concern is whether it is curable or not, but Edomwonyi revealed Rheumatoid Arthritis has no known cure presently. However, like hypertension and diabetes, it can be treated with the use of medications known as Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs (DMARDs). These are drugs, which work on some cells of the immune system that have ganged up like militants or local insurgents against the body. These drugs reduce and prevent the amount of underlying destruction and damage being inflicted on the joints. They also help to prevent the disabling effects of the disease.

He continued, “The home remedy for the disease is warm or cold compresses, topical analgesics (containing ingredients like capsaicin, salicylates, menthol) can be rubbed on painful joints. Drugs like NSAIDs (ibuprofen) can also give relief. But if the symptoms persist for more than two weeks, you will need to seek expert care. Bearable exercises are also useful in these persons.

“The best known prevention is early identification of the condition, and early treatment. This means seeing an expert in the care of such conditions, which usually is a Rheumatologist (there are now over 20 in Nigeria), who take care of the causes of rheumatism not due to trauma or needing surgery. They are trained and have experience in the treatment of rheumatic diseases with medicines.

“The orthopaedic surgeons are the experts in the use of surgery to treat the conditions due to trauma or that need surgical intervention. Physiotherapists work closely with the Rheumatologist and Orthopaedic surgeons; they are experts in using physical treatments for rheumatic and Musculoskeletal conditions,” Edomwonyi advised. (Concluded)

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