Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease that has become increasingly common in the modern world. Fortunately, there’s a ton of information to help you out if you’ve been diagnosed with it.
In general, people who are affected by rheumatoid arthritis first start to see symptoms between the ages of 30 and 60, but any age group can get this disease. It is known that women are three times more likely to develop this problem. It is also known that all races can develop rheumatoid arthritis. Everyone, therefore, is vulnerable to getting rheumatoid arthritis at some point in their life.
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What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that causes swollen joints that are often very painful. Unlike ordinary arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis can affect your entire body. Many people who have rheumatoid arthritis develop a low red blood cell count and experience long-term inflammation around their lungs. Overall, about 1.3 million people in the U.S. have rheumatoid arthritis. Since rheumatoid arthritis has become so prevalent in the modern world, a wide range of treatments are emerging that can help patients improve their quality of life.
Some researchers believe that rheumatoid arthritis is the human body’s reaction to foods that were not available before modern civilization. Many foods that people consume on a daily basis in today’s world, such as milk, grain, and sweet candy, were not available when humans were nomadic hunters living in the wilderness. Therefore, rheumatoid arthritis may be the body’s reaction to foods that people have not yet biologically adapted to eating. If the evolutionary theory of rheumatoid arthritis is true, it may be possible for you to avoid contracting this problem by only eating foods that would have been available to people living in the natural environment.
Symptoms and Causes
The most common symptom that people experience after contracting rheumatoid arthritis is severe joint pain. Joints throughout your body often start to become inflamed and tender. You may also feel a warm sensation in areas of your body that are commonly affected by rheumatoid arthritis, such as your hands, feet, knees, or elbows. In most cases, rheumatoid arthritis starts in one area of your body before expanding into other areas over a period of months or years.
Many people who contract rheumatoid arthritis feel stiff in the morning, and this stiffness can be relieved with short muscle movements. As time goes on, you can confirm that you have rheumatoid arthritis if you experience tendon erosion and a reduced range of motion.
Some researchers believe that people contract rheumatoid arthritis at a young age, but do not show symptoms until they are older. Research has shown that genetics can influence whether a person contracts rheumatoid arthritis, but people who have rheumatoid arthritis are not guaranteed to pass on this problem to their children. Environmental issues, such as pollution, smoke inhalation, and hazardous chemicals, are another known cause of rheumatoid arthritis. People can even begin to show symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis after a traumatic event or major life change. Finally, hormones can influence whether a person contracts rheumatoid arthritis since female hormonal changes have been proven to be correlated with the emergence of rheumatoid arthritis.
Common Treatment Options
Doctors often prescribe disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs to patients who are showing signs of rheumatoid arthritis. DMARDs are anti-inflammatory drugs that can help to reduce pain and swelling.
People who have rheumatoid arthritis are encouraged to exercise, but working out can be painful when you are struggling with severe rheumatoid arthritis. Some researchers believe that your diet may be the key to overcoming rheumatoid arthritis. You should, however, recognize that the medical community has not verified the link between diet and rheumatoid arthritis, so relying on a combination of treatment options is the best approach in most situations.
It is important to keep in mind that there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis. Most rheumatoid arthritis treatments that are available focus on slowing the expansion of rheumatoid arthritis to new areas of your body and reducing the severity of your symptoms.
Nevertheless, you can live a healthy and happy life if you follow a treatment schedule that is tailored to the specific symptoms that you are experiencing. Many people who have rheumatoid arthritis rely on a combination of physical therapy and medication to improve their quality of life. Since rheumatoid arthritis can get progressively worse as time goes on, it is important for you to contact your doctor for a professional diagnosis as soon as possible if you have the symptoms of this disease.
Alternate Treatment Options
In addition to medications, there are a number of alternative and supplemental treatments for managing symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. The best approach to managing rheumatoid arthritis is a multifaceted one combining some of the practices below with traditional therapies.
Stretching and Exercise
Stretching has been clinically proven to reduce rheumatoid arthritis symptoms in the hands and wrists. Low-stress exercises, like swimming or cycling, can even delay the progression of rheumatoid arthritis by strengthening the muscles surrounding the affected joints. Consult your doctor or a physical therapist to develop a safe stretching and exercise regimen.
Hot and Cold
Some patients find that periodically applying heat packs or ice packs to their wrists and feet provides temporary pain relief.
Plant-based diets have been proven to reduce inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis patients, so eat as many fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, and nuts as you can.
Omega-3 fatty acids, typically found in fish oil, can reduce inflammation if taken consistently over a long period of time. Boswellia, also known as frankincense, and turmeric have anti-inflammatory properties as well. You can try sprinkling a little turmeric into your food, but don’t use tumeric if you take blood thinning medications like Warfarin. Probiotics, which are present in foods like yogurt, pickles, and cheese, may also reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
Stress Reduction Techniques
Since stress can cause flare ups, it’s safe to assume that alleviating stress from your life can make managing RA a lot easier. Mind-body techniques like meditation, yoga, tai chi, qi gong, hypnosis, and even prayer all have been proven to reduce anxiety and, thus, the pain that accompanies it.
If you have rheumatoid arthritis, your prognosis today is much better than what it might have been in the past. Thanks to modern treatments and advances in medical technology, many people who have RA are able to continue enjoying social and physical activities. However, the prognosis for people who have the disease varies. You might expect to experience continued stiffness and joint inflammation. Some people may also develop complications, including psoriasis, cancer, heart disease, and others. If your symptoms progress very rapidly through the stages of RA, your condition will worsen as time passes.
A study that was reported in Rheumatology News found that people who had RA and who were prescribed anti-tumor necrosis factor, or anti-TNF drugs, had a reduction in the mortality rate of 30 percent. The researchers analyzed data from 78 trials that involved more than 30,000 RA patients.
While there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, researchers continue to look for ways to manage the symptoms more effectively. Currently, patients who derive benefits from taking anti-TNF drugs may expect to receive a combination of drugs in the future. According to a report in The Rheumatologist, Ravinder N. Maini, M.D., a researcher and professor of rheumatology at Imperial College in London, UK, believes that future treatments for rheumatoid arthritis might include combinations of anti-TNF drugs together with anti-angiogenic drugs or targeted therapeutics that target the synovial fibroblasts inside of the lining around the joints. People may expect more treatments in the future as research continues.