Is RA Genetic?
This issue has yet not been resolved. RA is not a genetic disease but you can say that RA patients generally have genes which may facilitate the production of certain antibodies after exposure to certain triggers (in environment, stress and other unknown triggers). Even if a person has susceptible genes, it is not necessary to develop the disease without triggers. So, generally the disease is multifactorial.
How common is the misdiagnosis of RA?
That is quite common especially by Non-rheumatologists. Laymen and many doctors who don’t specialise in rheumatology think that there is only one type of arthritis. But, in fact arthritis should be considered only as a symptom arising out of 100 causes. RA gets misdiagnosed so often as Osteoarthritis and Gout. And sometimes nonspecific aches and pains also get misdiagnosed as RA. For example in cases of Diabetes, hands get stiff and mildly painful but get diagnosed as a case of RA.
Is it seasonal, will it flare up in change of seasons?
Yes, for unknown reasons, RA tends to flare up periodically, despite consumption of appropriate medications. Adjustment of medications or additions in prescription like steroids are required to control of symptoms.
Will changing our current lifestyle help?
People should reduce weight to decrease the burden on the dysregulated immune system. Patient needs regular excercise within the limit of tolerance to maintain the muscle strength and to maintain the range of motion. Smoking is big NO, NO. Always have a positive attitude. Consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables will always be good. Meditation is recommended.
Is it a condition with which a patient has to live with like Diabetes and it can only be moderated and not cured?
Yes, at present there is no cure for this disease as there is no cure for other majority of diseases except a few infections. As in the case of diabetes, a proper control of blood sugar can be achieved and the damage of various organ systems can be avoided by doing this. In the same way, in case of RA, target of the treatment is controlling the autoimmune inflammation by appropriate medicines so that damage to the joints can be halted and pain can be ameliorated. And as in case of Diabetes, the job of controlling blood sugar is best done by an Endocrinologist, for RA, it is best done by a Rheumatologist.
What will be repurcussion, if RA is not treated or countered?
If Inflammation caused by RA is not controlled, it will continue to damage the affected joints and it can cripple you within a few years, and with proper control of inflammation by a Rheumatologist, joints can be saved from the adverse affect of this inflammation for decades and patients can continue walking through their lifetime without undergoing joint replacement. Early correct diagnosis and treatment by Rheumatologist is of paramount importance in modern times.