Rheumatoid Arthritis is an auto-immune disease that affects millions and millions of people out there.
Although it is quite commonly encountered and although almost all the medical professionals out there have dealt with at least one patient suffering from it, rheumatoid arthritis continues to be a mystery even today, in the 21st century.
Rheumatoid Arthritis and Gout – The Main Differences
The symptoms of this auto-immune disease are known, but the exact cause that leads to its development is still completely unknown, which is one of the things that still puzzles the medical world.
As an auto-immune disease, rheumatoid arthritis is related to the fact that the body’s immune system starts attacking its very own cells.
In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, it is inflammation of the joints and bones that this leads to, but in time tissues and organs can be affected as well (the skin and the kidneys, for example).
Gout, on the other hand, is not related to auto-immunity, but to the high levels of uric acid found in the blood of the patients.
In the case of the patients who suffer from gout, repeated attacks of inflammatory arthritis appear and in most of the cases it is the base of the big toe that is affected by these attacks.
However, in some other cases, gout can get to affect kidneys (leading to the development of the kidney stones) and it can also present itself as tophi and as urate nephropathy.
Gout and RA – Old Theories Proven Wrong
The main similarity between these two medical conditions is related to the fact that they are both forms of arthritis.
Their causes, however, are not that much linked and up to quite a recent point, most of the specialists in the field thought that developing both of these medical conditions is very, very rare.
Recently though, they started thinking that it may be otherwise and that gout and rheumatoid arthritis can appear in the same patient more frequently that they had previously thought.
Before the more recent discoveries in the field, specialists thought that rheumatoid arthritis patients did not get gout because they did not know that the treatment they administered to them was also helping with the gout.
Before the more recently created drugs for rheumatoid arthritis, aspiring was used in high dosages, which happened to help patients who suffered both from rheumatoid arthrtitis and gout with both of their conditions (since it helped eliminate the excess uric acid).
As soon as aspirin started to be used less and less frequently, scientists discovered that what they previously thought was completely wrong and that the chances of developing gout while a rheumatoid arthritis are as high as in any other case.
This discovery is extremely important because it will eventually lead to better treatments for the patients who suffer from both of these medical conditions.
It is also worth noticing that since the exact cause of the rheumatoid arthritis is not yet known, its treatment is in a continuous development as well.
From aspirin to corticosteroids and to more modern drugs, all of them show some kind of flaw.
Furthermore, there are drugs used today which have been linked to serious infections and even to cancer and until the cause of the disease is actually discovered, patients are only left with the hope that one day they will find a treatment that will not affect them.
A New Hope for RA Patients
The recent discoveries according to which gut bacteria may be responsible for the development of this auto-immune disease may be the first step towards a better future for those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis.
Scientists have recently discovered the fact that in the case of rodents, the presence of gut bacteria triggers the creation of certain immune cells, which in their turn start affecting the body of the rodents through inflammation.
Although the tests on rodents have not yet discovered them to develop arthritis, the apparition of inflammation is a huge sign that the gut bacteria are actually the one behind the mystery of rheumatoid arthritis.
Adding this to the discovery of the fact that gout and rheumatoid arthritis can develop in parallel, patients who suffer from these diseases have more hope than ever.
Finally, important steps are made in this particular field and it may not be long before a better treatment will be developed.
Until then though, patients are left with the best alternatives prescribed by their doctors and there isn’t much they can do about it.
Hopefully, future will bring better days for the patients who suffer from this auto-immune disease.