Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term condition that causes pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints. The symptoms usually affect the hands, feet and wrists.
There may be periods where symptoms become worse, known as flare-ups or flares.
A flare can be difficult to predict, but with treatment it’s possible to decrease the number of flares and minimise or prevent long-term damage to the joints.
Some people with rheumatoid arthritis also experience problems in other parts of the body, or more general symptoms such as tiredness and weight loss.
Causes of rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. This means your immune system – which usually fights infection – attacks the cells that line your joints by mistake, making the joints swollen, stiff and painful.
Over time, this can damage the joint itself, the cartilage and nearby bone.
It’s not clear what triggers this problem with the immune system, although you’re at an increased risk if:
- you are a woman
- you have a family history of rheumatoid arthritis
- you smoke
Read more about the causes of rheumatoid arthritis.
Treating rheumatoid arthritis
There’s no cure for rheumatoid arthritis. However, early diagnosis and appropriate treatment enables many people with rheumatoid arthritis to have periods of months or even years between flares. This can help them to lead full lives and continue regular employment.
The main treatment options include:
- medication that is taken in the long-term to relieve symptoms and slow the progress of the condition
- supportive treatments, such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy, to help keep you mobile and find ways around any problems you have with daily activities
- surgery to correct any joint problems that develop
Complications of rheumatoid arthritis
Having rheumatoid arthritis can lead to several other conditions that may cause additional symptoms and can sometimes be life-threatening.
Possible complications include:
- carpal tunnel syndrome
- inflammation of other areas of the body (such as the lungs, heart and eyes)
- an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes
Ensuring that rheumatoid arthritis is well controlled helps reduce your risk of complications such as these.
How can Regenerative stem cell treatment help?
Using cell products based on multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells (MMSCs) as a method of arthritis therapy gives a chance to reverse the symptoms (pain, swelling, local redness, stiffness and restriction of movements) and improve the function of damaged joints.
In the therapy, MMSCs are the cells that:
- improve the overall regenerative potential of the body , triggering the healing process;
- provide local and systemic anti-inflammatory effect which reduces inflammation and pain;
- activate the patient’s own stem cells which may result in the repair of the joint tissues and to the recovery of its function.
As MMSCs have anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects, the use of these cells can slow or stop the progression of diseases, associated with tissue damage, including autoimmune diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis). Stem cell therapy enhances immunity decreasing common causes of joint damage.