About the disease
Relapsing polychondritis is a rare disease of the immune system that manifests itself as inflammation of the cartilage that covers the ends of bones at a joint. It develops when the immune system overreacts to various diseases and injuries. The immune system falsely thinks that the body is infected with a virus or harmful bacteria and sends blood to what it thinks is the affected area, to fix the problem. This results in the area becoming red, warm and swollen. Sometimes it can be quite painful, too.
According to WebMD, relapsing polychondritis can start quite suddenly. The manifestations of relapsing polychondritis depend on its severity. In mild cases, the person may feel only warmth and tenderness in certain parts of the body for a short period of time. In severe cases, relapsing polychondritis can be very painful, with many joints becoming inflamed. It commonly affects people in the 40-60 age bracket.
The cause of relapsing polychondritis has not yet been identified, as this condition is not hereditary. As this is an autoimmune disorder, it is thought that certain genetic mutations might be the cause of relapsing polychondritis. Stress and environmental factors are also thought to contribute to the development of relapsing polychondritis.
- Joint pain
- Rashes in some cases
- Difficulty breathing and speaking in some cases
- During a general examination, the doctor will examine the patient’s joints for signs of inflammation and will first rule out other conditions which could have similar symptoms, such as arthritis or arthrosis.
- A blood test can check for signs of inflammation.
- Imaging tests, such as MRI and CT scans, can help the doctor to examine the inflamed joints and determine whether they have suffered any damage.
- The heart, kidneys and lungs will also be checked, to see if they have also been affected.
- There is no definite cure for relapsing polychondritis, but there are many ways to manage the pain during attacks.
- Anti-inflammatory drugs and steroids can be used to alleviate the pain and inflammation.
- Immunosuppressants can be used in severe cases, to lower the response of the immune system and thus alleviate the inflammation.