Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most debilitating forms of arthritis. It differs from osteoarthritis in that it is an inflammatory, auto-immune condition; it is not simply the result of years of wear and tear on your joints.
How does Rheumatoid Arthritis Progress?
Rheumatoid arthritis causes the lining of the joints to deteriorate, leading to joint deformity and eventually disability. Also unlike other forms of arthritis, if left untreated RA can develop into a systemic condition; that is, it can affect multiple organs of the body and even result in death.
Who is at risk for Rheumatoid Arthritis?
There is yet no identified cause of this disease. Research points to a theory that predisposition to it may be genetic; a certain faulty immune system gene is common to many RA patients. Studies also find that many people with this condition also have relatives who have it too. Genetics are not the determinant, however, because there are people who have the gene and relatives with the condition who have not developed the condition themselves.
Be aware that Rheumatoid arthritis may be stereotyped an old-age disease, but it can begin in anyone of any age, even those as young as 20. Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis can even occur in children younger than 15. It is more frequently found in women than in men.
How do I know it's Rheumatoid Arthritis?
A chronic disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms may flare up or fade into remission over time. The onset of this disease may be characterized by the following symptoms:
- Pain, discomfort, and swelling of the joints, particularly those of the hands and feet.
- A feeling of stiffness that lasts an hour or more after waking from sleep
- Fatigue, which can be acute during a flare
- Low-grade fever
- Motion loss in affected joints
- Loss of strength in muscles attached to affected joints
- General malaise
If you incur any of these symptoms, do not ignore them; seek the counsel of a rheumatologist who will be able to diagnose your condition.
What happens if I do ignore my symptoms?
They're not going to disappear. Rather, they will get much worse as the disease advances and begins to spread throughout your body. The systemic stage of this disease can take its toll on the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, blood vessels, and nervous system; early diagnosis and treatment is essential.
Can I self-treat my Rheumatoid Arthritis?
There are several steps you can take to alleviate your pain and halt the progression of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Get Regular Exercise. Work at a level that will accommodate any setbacks arthritis may have caused you. Exercise your joints too.
Maintain a healthy body weight. This will reduce the pressure put on your joints and will make any surgeries you may need less complicated.
Eat a healthy diet. While there is no evidence that proves that certain foods cause or cure arthritis, eating a healthy diet will give you the strength and wellness you will need to fight it.
Use heat therapy. To relax muscles and increase blood flow, apply heat treatment. Indulge in a steamy shower or hot bath, or use a heating pad. Likewise, cold treatments can dull pain; soak affected joints or muscles in an ice bath. Do not perform these techniques if you have poor circulation or poor skin sensation.
If there's no cure, will my suffering ever end?
Putting into practice the above self-care tips can have a very positive impact on your symptoms. A quality, productive life is still possible as long as you are proactive about dealing with your rheumatoid arthritis. As an additional treatment option consider a safe and effective treatment for the inflammation and pain of rheumatoid arthritis.