World Autoimmune Arthritis Day
We tend to think of arthritis as a single disease, but there are over 100 different types. Autoimmune arthritis, comprising a significant number of these types, is a form of arthritis where a person's immune system attacks itself, causing inflammation, pain, and many other potential symptoms.
Types of Autoimmune Arthritis
The most common form of autoimmune arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis, and you're probably already familiar with RA. We'll cover that below, but autoimmune arthritis has many other forms:
- Psoriatic arthritis: arthritis that affects some people who have psoriasis, a skin condition that causes scaly, patchy areas to build up on the skin.
- Reactive arthritis: a form that occurs to people with a history of certain bacterial infections, such as Salmonella, Chlamydia, Shigella, and Campylobacter. Arthritic joint pain can be accompanied here by eye redness, urinary burning, or rashes on the palms or soles of feet.
- Juvenile arthritis: a form of arthritis affecting 300,00 children in the U.S., causing joint pain, fevers, rashes, and eye inflammation.
- Ankylosing spondyloarthritis: arthritis of the spine that causes pain and stiffness in the spinal joints.
- Axial spondyloarthritis: arthritis in the spine and pelvic joints.
- Palindromic rheumatism: a type of arthritis that causes attacks of joint pain and inflammation, often in the fingers, wrists, or knees, that then resolve.
Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common autoimmune form of arthritis, affecting 1.3 million Americans, about 75 percent of whom are women. It's a chronic inflammatory disorder that can affect not only your joints, but sometimes a wide variety of body systems, including the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, and blood vessels. Rheumatoid arthritis is considered an autoimmune disorder, and occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body's tissues.
Unlike the damage of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of your joints, causing a painful swelling that can eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity. The inflammation that is associated with rheumatoid arthritis is what can damage other parts of the body as well. While new types of medications have improved treatment options dramatically, severe rheumatoid arthritis can still cause physical disabilities.
Signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include:
- Tender, warm, and swollen joints
- Joint stiffness that is usually worse in the mornings and after inactivity
- Loss of appetite.
Early rheumatoid arthritis tends to affect your smaller joints first, particularly the joints that attach your fingers to your hands and your toes to your feet. As the disease progresses, symptoms often spread to the wrists, knees, ankles, elbows, hips and shoulders. In most cases, symptoms occur in the same joints on both sides of the body. About 40% of the people who have this condition also experience signs and symptoms that affect many non-joint structures, including skin, eyes, lungs, heart, kidneys, salivary glands, nerve tissue, bone marrow, and blood vessels.
Rheumatoid arthritis signs and symptoms may vary in severity and may even come and go. Periods of increased disease activity, called flareups, alternate with periods of relative remission - that is, when the swelling and pain fade or disappear. Over time, rheumatoid arthritis can cause joints to deform and shift out of place.
Mountain Ice and Autoimmune Arthritis
Autoimmune arthritis is often treated with a special class of drug called a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD). However, this doesn't mean you can't help manage the disease with other treatments, including Mountain Ice. Each ingredient contained in Mountain Ice has anti-inflammatory as well as anti-oxidant properties, all of which help to increase blood flow, reduce swelling, and slow the progression of rheumatoid arthritis and other forms of autoimmune arthritis.