Final Paper

COM 172 - Final Paper
April 18, 2012
Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a disease that affects as many as 1.3 million people in the United States alone. (Foundation, 2001) RA is a progressive, chronic illness which currently has no cure.   It is classified as a hereditary autoimmune disorder in which the individual’s immune system attacks their own joints causing pain, swelling, inflammation, and even deformity of the joint.   The disease targets an area in the joint called the synovial membrane.   This part of the joint is responsible for secreting synovial fluid which acts as a lubricant for the joint.   When there is plenty synovial fluid the joint is cushioned and lubricated allowing free movement of the joint.   RA disrupts the functioning of the synovial membrane, creating inflammation and reducing synovial fluid production, which results in wear and tear on the joint.   This inflammation also causes weakness of the ligaments, tendons, and muscles which are meant to help support the joint.   Over the long-term this joint damage leads to joint deformity which is a contributing factor to increased risk of falls and other types of injuries to the patient.   (Genentech, 2012)   The progression of the illness, without treatment, has significant impacts on the life of the patient.   As RA progresses people find daily activities to become more difficult to perform; activities such as tying their shoes or buttoning their shirt can cause serve pain.   Ultimately many RA patients are forced into disability and eventually become home-bound.   If there is a family history of RA it is important to be tested by a rheumatologist as soon as possible.   An early and accurate diagnosis can help slow down the course of the illness before disability and deformity set in.   The benefits and risks of traditional treatments gives a longer quality of life to RA patients instead to a short term relief of alternative treatments.
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