What is a Tendon?
A tendon is a tough band of fibrous tissue that connects muscle to bone or muscle to muscle. Also referred to as a sinew, it is made to withstand tension. It works in conjunction with the muscle to exert pulling force.
How Rheumatoid Arthritis affects Tendons
If Rheumatoid Arthritis is not diagnosed and treated early, then over time it can cause significant damage to joints, leading to deformity and disability. Hands and wrists are the most common location for these deformities. As tendons also become inflamed, they result in rupture or ulnar drift.
Rupture. Tendons may break, and depending on which tendon does, it may be impossible to straighten or bend the finger. Tendon loosening due to inflammation of the joints is also frequently seen in RA patients.
Ulnar Drift. Tendons and ligaments may be moved out of position due to swelling of the joints. This causes ulnar drift: the fingers bend toward the pinky finger.
What is a Ligament?
A ligament is the fibrous and somewhat stretchy tissue that connects one bone to another in the body, forming a joint . Ligaments control the joint's range of motion, and stabilize the joint so that the bones move in the correct alignment.
How Rheumatoid Arthritis affects Ligaments
Rheumatoid arthritis causes the synovial lining of the joints to swell and become inflamed. This lining is invaded by white blood cells which fire off a variety of destructive chemicals. These chemicals lead to the erosion of cartilage, bone, and ligaments. Movement of the joint then becomes severely impaired.
What is a Muscle?
Muscle is the contractile tissue of the body which produces force and causes motion. Muscles are classified into two main groups: involuntary and voluntary. Skeletal muscles are voluntary, affect movement and locomotion, and are held to bones by tendons.
How Rheumatoid Arthritis affects muscles
Just as the inflammation of the synovial lining degrades tendons and ligaments, it can do the same to local muscles. Muscle soreness and stiffness is an oft-reported symptom of Rheumatoid arthritis. This condition can also cause muscles to spasm. Although in the past doctors feared that exercise would cause the inflammation to worsen, light exercise is widely recommended today. Not only is exercise essential for vitality, strengthening the muscles near the affected joints may help you retain motion in them.
What can I do to protect my Tendons, Ligaments, and Muscles?
There is nothing that can undo the damage that is already done to your joints and surrounding tissues. You can prevent it from becoming worse by noticing the disease in its early stages and seeing your rheumatologist. After you discuss treatment options with him, there are self-care measures you can take, like exercise, that can assist in halting the progression of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Natural herbs are a great way to help with this.
Photo Credit: juhansonin
I believe the best way to avoid this illness is only exercise and making yourself stay in condition. Commented on HelloLife · September 9, 2010 at 9:30 AM
Smartliving Guest is clearly a moron. Commented on HelloLife · November 14, 2013 at 10:25 PM
Guest you are wrong. I have RA and have experienced the tearing of my Achilles tendon, knee tendon and shoulder tendon. RA causes inflammation which makes them weaker and the harder you use them the more likely they are to rip. Exercise is always good but believe me it doesn't cure or prevent RA. Commented on HelloLife · February 13 at 8:43 PM
It is common for us to think that the condition causes the symptom (ie: RA causes inflammation), but it is actually the opposite, inflammation is the cause of RA. We look to the sources of inflammation for solutions.
Recent discoveries in immunology, gastroenterology, psychoneuroimmunology, and physical therapy lay out a bigger picture scenario where the condition would have a difficult time existing in the body. First and foremost, we have to know what to do and what NOT to do so that we can incorporate the right foods, exercises, and stress management techniques into our lifestyles. We look to the source of the inflammation to find solutions.
Inflammation is a natural immune response to injury, irritation, or invasion by a pathogen orally or cutaneously. Immune cells rush to the site and signal other immune cells to join in efforts to defend and repair the injury. It is possible and increasingly common, however, for this system to become too anxious, if you will, and can cause considerable damage to surrounding tissues. In rheumatoid arthritis, pro-inflammatory immune cells ". . . attack the lining of the joint capsule, a tough membrane that encloses all the joint parts. This lining, known as the synovial membrane, becomes inflamed and swollen. The disease process can eventually destroy cartilage and bone within the joint" (Mayo Clinic, 20??) .
Not too long ago, it was accepted that the immune system could not be controlled pre-emptively, but we now know that what we eat and put into our bodies can affect our immune system through our gut. Our stress level and frequency influence immune cells just as much as proinflammatory fatty acids or high circulating glucose levels can.
To avoid writing a novel here, I can sum up years of research by pointing out that RA is an autoimmune disorder, and autoimmunity is due to a combination of chronic low level stress, increased intestinal permeability, and poor dietary habits. Each of these three factors determine the activity of particular immune cells. Stress plays a big role in NK cell cytotoxicity, increased intestinal permeability leads to circulating immune complexes, where undigested particles of food enter the bloodstream and are recognized as foreign invaders by leukocytes, and a diet too high in proinflammatory omega 6 and too low in anti-inflammatory omega 3's (among many other examples) all contribute to chronic, low-level inflammation that can lead to RA, Chron's disease, Fibromyalgia, and many more conditions. Commented on HelloLife · July 19 at 8:16 PM