Who Should Diagnose And Treat Ra
A doctor or a team of doctors who specialize in care of RA patients should diagnose and treat RA. This is especially important because the signs and symptoms of RA are not specific and can look like signs and symptoms of other inflammatory joint diseases. Doctors who specialize in arthritis are called rheumatologists, and they can make the correct diagnosis. To find a provider near you, visit the database of rheumatologistsexternal icon on the American College of Rheumatology website.
What Type Of Doctors Treat Arthritis
Part of your treatment plan may involve working with different health-care specialists. Some common health-care professionals and their role in your treatment are described below. Most doctors make referrals to one of a group of health professionals with whom they work. But you too can ask your doctor to request medical services you think might help you.
Your family doctor may be an excellent source of medical care for your arthritis. Besides having your medication records, your family doctor already has your medical history, is familiar with your general physical health and knows of any past illnesses or injuries. All these facts will give your family doctor a head start in prescribing a treatment plan most suited to your needs.
If your arthritis affects many joints or other parts of the body or seems resistant to treatment, you may benefit from seeing a rheumatologist. This is a doctor with special training and experience in the field of arthritis. Your family doctor, the local chapter of the Arthritis Foundation or the county medical society can refer you to a rheumatologist. You can also search for a rheumatologist on the American College of Rheumatology web site.
Can Arthritis Affect Your Digestive System
Studies show that people with RA are more likely to have stomach problems than the general population. The gastrointestinal tract has an upper and lower section. And RA can affect either one. Research shows that people with RA are about 70% more likely to develop a gastrointestinal problem than people without RA.
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What Do Doctors Do
It’s not always easy for doctors to diagnose JIA right away. JIA itself can have lots of different symptoms, and some infections, like Lyme disease, have similar symptoms to JIA. So doctors will want to rule out any other possibilities before deciding something is JIA.
If a doctor suspects a patient has JIA, he or she will ask about the person’s symptoms, find out if others in the family have had arthritis, and do a complete physical examination to look for joint swelling, eye problems, and rashes. A doctor may do blood tests and X-rays. In some cases, doctors may use a needle to take a sample of synovial fluid from a person’s joint.
Sometimes, a doctor might need to see a patient for several months to determine the particular type of JIA the person has.
What Is An Ra Flare
Flare-ups are episodes of increased disease activity in which the body is fighting itself. With RA flare-ups, inflammation increases.
With a flare-up, you experience a short-term increase in RA symptoms. A flare-up can last a few days or persist for weeks or months.
Flare-ups typically involve joint stiffness and pain, but all RA symptoms can worsen, including fatigue. If a flare-up is especially severe, it can affect your ability to perform daily tasks.
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As Can The Words Youre Too Young To Have Arthritis
When you say the word arthritis, every older person you meet has it, too, Dishner says. While well-meaning people may sympathize by comparing their own ailment with yours, psoriatic arthritis is a much different form of arthritis and does not develop because of aging. It can occur at any age but typically begins to cause symptoms among those between 30 and 50 years old, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation . Its not the job of someone who has psoriatic arthritis to educate others on their particular disease and set of symptoms. Be sure to do your own research to be the best possible ally.
Does It Run In Families
You cant pass reactive arthritis on to your children. However, they can inherit the HLA-B27 gene, which could slightly increase their chance of getting the condition. This doesnt mean that by having this gene theyll definitely get reactive arthritis. However, the condition tends to be more common in people with HLA-B27.
Around 1 in every 10 people in the UK carry this gene.
The first signs of reactive arthritis are often:
- painful and swollen joints, usually in the ankles or knees
- sausage-like swelling of fingers or toes
- puffy, sore, red eyes, often with a mucus discharge known as conjunctivitis
- extreme, unexplained tiredness, known as fatigue
You may notice that your knees, ankles or toes suddenly become swollen, stiff and painful to move. Or the swelling may appear gradually over a few days.
Reactive arthritis can also affect other joints, such as your fingers, wrists, elbows and the joints at the base of your spine, known as the sacroiliac joints . It can also cause inflammation in the tendons around your joints, such as the Achilles tendon which runs down the back of your ankle.
You may find your whole finger or toe swells up if both the tendons and joints become affected at the same time. This is often called sausage digit or dactylitis .
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Whats New In Arthritis Research
Progress is so fast in some areas of arthritis research today that the media often report new findings before the medical journal with the information reaches your doctors office. As a result, you need to know how to evaluate reports on new arthritis research.
Arthritis researchers are looking at four broad areas of research. These include causes, treatments, education and prevention.
Researchers are learning more about certain conditions. For example in osteoarthritis, researchers are looking for signs of early destruction of cartilage and ways to rebuild it. For rheumatoid arthritis and other types that involve inflammation, researchers are trying to understand the steps that lead to inflammation and how it can be slowed or stopped. An initial study suggests that fibromyalgia affects more older people than originally thought and often may be overlooked in this group. Your doctor can tell you about other new research findings. If you would like to take part in arthritis research, ask your doctor for a referral to a study in your area.
Many people help make arthritis research possible. The federal government through its National Institutes of Health is the largest supporter of arthritis research. Drug companies do the most research on new medications.
Symptoms Of Fatigue In Inflammatory Arthritis
Just like there are many causes of fatigue, there are also many symptoms that may indicate what you have is inflammatory arthritis-related fatigue. Its very subjective and not quantifiable with a lab or measurable outcome, which is why fatigue can feel so frustrating and overwhelming, says Dr. Cohen. You cant quantify it, but you know its not normal.
Heres a look at some of the key symptoms to discuss with your health care team:
Dr. Khattri says that while symptoms of fatigue and feeling tired do overlap, fatigue is often at the extreme end. You feel like you have no control.
With normal tired you know sleep can fix it, says CreakyJoints community member Lel. Fatigue decides when its over youre just a helpless bystander.
Change in energy levels
While some patients wake up feeling fatigue, others experience sudden, overwhelming changes in energy levels and simply hit a wall.
RA fatigue stops me in my tracks. I feel myself fading out suddenly, then I have to rest . It feels like sandbags dropped on me, says CreakyJoints community member Kristina H. It hits me around the same time every day, or sometimes I wake up knowing its going to be a low energy day.
Increase in flares
Research shows that poor sleep can make the symptoms of fatigue worse, increasing sensitivity to pain, irritability, and making it that much harder to concentrate, says Dr. Cohen.
Reduced quality of life
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Wash Your Hands Frequently
Frequent, proper handwashing can remove germs and help keep them from spreading. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises washing your hands with soap and water.
The steps of proper handwashing are:
If you are in a situation where you cannot wash your hands with soap and water, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is OK.
Causes Of Fatigue In Arthritis
Inflammation, pain, inactivity and lifestyle factors can cause extreme tiredness when living with arthritis.
Everyone gets worn out from time to time. But exhaustion that disrupts your daily life and doesnt get better after a good nights sleep has its own medical term: fatigue. Fatigue significantly affects the quality of life for people with many forms of arthritis-related diseases, includingrheumatoid arthritis,psoriatic arthritis, spondyloarthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia andosteoarthritis. Your lack of energy may be caused by your inflammatory disease and other health conditions you have, as well asmedications side effectsand lifestyle habits.
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Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Cause Fatigue
Everyones experience of rheumatoid arthritis is a little different. But many people with RA say that fatigue is among the worst symptoms of the disease.
Living with chronic pain can be exhausting. And fatigue can make it more difficult to manage your pain. Its important to pay attention to your body and take breaks before you get too tired.
What are rheumatoid arthritis flare symptoms?
The symptoms of a rheumatoid arthritis flare arent much different from the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. But people with RA have ups and downs. A flare is a time when you have significant symptoms after feeling better for a while. With treatment, youll likely have periods of time when you feel better. Then, stress, changes in weather, certain foods or infections trigger a period of increased disease activity.
Although you cant prevent flares altogether, there are steps you can take to help you manage them. It might help to write your symptoms down every day in a journal, along with whats going on in your life. Share this journal with your rheumatologist, who may help you identify triggers. Then you can work to manage those triggers.
What Are The Four Stages Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Stage 1: In early stage rheumatoid arthritis, the tissue around your joint is inflamed. You may have some pain and stiffness. If your provider ordered X-rays, they wouldnt see destructive changes in your bones.
- Stage 2: The inflammation has begun to damage the cartilage in your joints. You might notice stiffness and a decreased range of motion.
- Stage 3: The inflammation is so severe that it damages your bones. Youll have more pain, stiffness and even less range of motion than in stage 2, and you may start to see physical changes.
- Stage 4: In this stage, the inflammation stops but your joints keep getting worse. Youll have severe pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of mobility.
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How Does Arthritis Feel
Arthritis usually causes stiffness pain and fatigue. The severity varies from person to person and even from day to day. In some people only a few joints are affected and the impact may be small. In other people the entire body system may be affected.
The joints of the body are the site of much of the action in arthritis. Many types of arthritis show signs of joint inflammation: swelling, stiffness, tenderness, redness or warmth. These joint symptoms may be accompanied by weight loss, fever or weakness.
When these symptoms last for more than two weeks, inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis may be the cause. Joint inflammation may also be caused by infection which can lead to septic arthritis. Degenerative joint disease is the most common type of arthritis joint inflammation is not a prominent feature of this condition. While normal joints can support a vast amount of use, mechanical abnormalities of a joint make it susceptible to degeneration.
It is healthy for you to keep active and move your joints. If you do not move a joint regularly, the muscles around it weaken and/or become tight. The joint can stiffen or even freeze. When you do try to move the joint and muscles hurt because they have been still for so long.
Arthritis can make it hard to do the movements you rely on every day for work or taking care of your family.
Stiffness In The Joints
In addition to pain, this disease causes stiffness in the affected joints. You may have difficulty getting out of bed or walking in the morning because of stiff and painful ankles, knees, or feet. This stiffness is usually worse in the mornings and can last for 45 minutes or more.
RA can also trigger swelling in the affected joints. Long-term inflammation can cause you to feel physically exhausted.
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What Triggers My Malaise
After living with chronic pain for a decade, Ive been able to figure out a few things that make malaise worse, as well as things to help me cope with it. Keep in mind that what triggers and eases malaise for me may not be the same for you. It is important to track your own reactions and speak to a health care provider to come up with a treatment that works for you. This will probably involve a lot of trial and error, so be patient.
Medications: Taking multiple medications can contribute to malaise symptoms like nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and appetite changes. It is important to bring this up to your doctor if it is getting in the way of your life and too frequent.
Some vitamins and supplements: Two that many people take to help manage rheumatoid arthritis but happen to make me feel uneasy are turmeric and vitamin B12.
Hunger: Once my blood sugar drops, I feel hangry and nauseous.
Coffee: Too much of my favorite energy-booster brings about some uneasy sensations. If I drink water and eat before or after my coffee, I find the malaise is less likely to occur.
Dehydration: Not drinking enough water throughout the day can be a major trigger for malaise.
Lack of physical activity: If I am sedentary for too long, the malaise arrives.
Fatigue: Maybe Ive overexerted myself or just had a bad nights sleep. Whatever the reason, the more tired I am, the more likely I am to deal with malaise.
What Are Bone Spurs
Bone spurs are of two basic types. One is the kind that arises near a joint with osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease. In this situation, the cartilage has been worn through and the bone responds by growing extra bone at the margins of the joint surface. These “spurs” carry the formal name “osteophytes.” They are common features of the osteoarthritic shoulder, elbow, hip, knee and ankle. Removing these osteophytes is an important part of joint replacement surgery but removing them without addressing the underlying arthritis is usually not effective in relieving symptoms.
The second type of bone spur is the kind that occurs when the attachment of ligaments or tendons to bone become calcified. This can occur on the bottom of the foot around the Achilles Tendon and in the coroacoacromial ligament of the shoulder. These spurs often look impressive on X-rays, but because they are in the substance of the ligaments rarely cause sufficient problems to merit excision.
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Sickness Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
In summarizing the source and symptoms of sickness behavior, researchers Dantzer and Kelly stated:
“It was subsequently shown that physiological concentrations of pro-inflammatory cytokines that occur after infection act in the brain to induce common symptoms of sickness, such as loss of appetite, sleepiness, withdrawal from normal social activities, fever, aching joints and fatigue.”1
Such responses by the body are thought to be part of the recovery processes to illnesses. The body is likely preserving resources and energy in order to fight off the sickness.
What Should People With Ra Do About Flu And Other Vaccinations Such As Covid
The short answer is: You should get them and you dont need to space them out. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , you can get the flu shot at the same time as your COVID-19 vaccine booster or other vaccines. The injections should be given in different sites, separated by at least an inch.
Studies have shown that RA patients are more likely to contract COVID-19 than the general population and they are more likely to have a more serious course, Dr. Kaplan says. Therefore, patients with RA and other autoimmune diseases are encouraged to stay up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters.
In addition, the latest guidelines from the American College of Rheumatology advise people with RA who are under age 65 and on immunosuppressive medication to have the pneumococcal vaccination and those with RA who are over 18 and taking immunosuppressive medication to have the recombinant zoster vaccine .
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Half The Battle Is Getting The Right Diagnosis
Teresa Dishner, 64, a former chemistry teacher from Virginia, saw her primary care doctor after experiencing sudden, painful symptoms. I was having extreme pain while getting dressed, and my fingertips bled while teaching class, says Dishner, who was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis in 2002. The doctor initially told her to simply lay off salt. But Dishner had a feeling that something more was amiss, so she decided to see a rheumatologist. Thats how she got the right diagnosis.
If you suspect theres something behind your pain, dont ignore it and think it will go away, says Renae Rabe, a finance manager living with psoriatic arthritis in West Allis, Wisconsin. She believes she had psoriatic arthritis for at least five years before receiving her diagnosis. Go to your doctor until you get answers, Rabe says.