Let Others Know What They Can Expect From You
Letting down loved ones is high on the list of anxieties people with arthritis have. One way to ameliorate this is to be open with them, Lawrence says. Communicating with others about what you feel and experience is important for people in your life to understand what you are going through and be able to be supportive, she explains. There may be times when you dont quite act like yourself and it will be helpful for others to understand and youll worry less about what theyre thinking. Consider sharing this article about the truth of what living with arthritis is really like.
What Are The Diagnostic Criteria For Rheumatoid Arthritis
Diagnostic criteria are a set of signs, symptoms and test results your provider looks for before telling you that youve got rheumatoid arthritis. Theyre based on years of research and clinical practice. Some people with RA dont have all the criteria. Generally, though, the diagnostic criteria for rheumatoid arthritis include:
- Inflammatory arthritis in two or more large joints .
- Inflammatory arthritis in smaller joints.
- Positive biomarker tests like rheumatoid factor or CCP antibodies.
- Elevated levels of CRP or an elevated sed rate.
- Your symptoms have lasted more than six weeks.
Neglecting Your Oral Health
Research suggests that tooth loss may predict RA and its severity. Researchers who have studied the connection between RA and periodontal disease discovered similarities in the joint and oral tissues, and in the inflammatory processes that affect them. The types of cells that infiltrate both tissues of the joints in RA and of the mouth in periodontitis a progressive form of gum disease are similar. Also, the levels of pro-inflammatory proteins, such as tumor necrosis factor , interleukin-1, and interleukin-6, are also similar in both RA and periodontitis. There are potential consequences when oral health is neglected.
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Herbal And Green Teas
Epigallocatechin-3-gallate , a chemical found in green tea and some other tea varieties, can have several protective effects on people with rheumatoid arthritis.
First, EGCG has been found to suppress the bodys production of several harmful substances thatcan contribute to bone and cartilage destruction. Drinking teas with this chemical may also help inhibit disease activity and prevent recurrent rheumatoid arthritis flare-ups.
Hormone Havoc Triggers Symptoms
The hypothalamus also activates a second part of the stress response system, using the hormonal signals of the HPA axis, especially corticotropin-releasing hormone , which causes the body to increase its level of what we call the stress hormone: cortisol.
Cortisol is the most famous hormone in our bodily response to stress, and with good reason. Cortisol turns on and turns off various reactions in our body. For instance, it tamps down the digestive and reproductive systems while boosting glucose in our blood.
Cortisol also alters the response of our immune system, emphasizing substances that repair tissue over other immune reactions.
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Divide Up Chores Among Your Family
Leave your superhero cape at the door. When it comes to lessening stress, one of the best things you can do is to allow your loved ones to take on more responsibility, Elizabeth says. Even though her children are small they can still do age-appropriate tasks like picking up toys, putting away clothing, or setting the table. Her husband also picks up the slack on days when shes feeling overwhelmed or in pain. Just remember to let them do the task their way as long as it gets done it doesnt matter if its exactly the way you would have done it.
When To Seek Help
If youre able to manage your RA with medications and lifestyle choices, you may only need to see your doctor for regular checkups. If your symptoms change or if flare-ups are becoming more frequent or more severe, see your doctor soon. Dont wait months for your next appointment.
Keep your doctor informed about your health. If youve started taking a new medication and suspect its interfering with your sleep, for example, tell your doctor. Your doctor may be able to recommend changes to your routine or healthcare plan that can have positive impacts on your health and the management of your RA.
Stress is a physical and psychological reaction to stimuli. Everyone experiences some stress at times. The burst of hormones produced when youre confronted with a threat triggers the fight-or-flight response. A little stress is part of a normal, healthy life. But too much stress or an inability to handle stress can be harmful.
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Make Relaxation A Part Of Your Life
Relaxation doesnt have to mean a long indulgent massage or vacation to a faraway place. You can find relaxation each and every day with a quiet guided meditation using an app on your phone, sitting on a park bench and watching the flowers, or by sitting quietly in a warm bath.
Oftentimes when youre stressed, youre so wired that you think you dont have time for these moments. But its exactly when you dont think you have time for them that theyre most important to your mental and physical health.
A little relaxation can put you back in perspective and take you out of the whirlwind that stress can cause.
Relaxation can help you notice where youre holding the stress: in a clenched jaw, shrugged shoulders, or tight back. By focusing on these areas, you can help them soften and slow the cycle of stress from affecting you physically.
At Maryland Orthopedic Specialists, were always available to help you find solutions to arthritis and other joint pain. our location in Bethesda or Germantown, Maryland or use this website to set up a consultation.
Learning tools and getting treatment to manage your arthritis pain can help reduce your stress levels, too.
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Get Educated About Your Disease And Treatment
Knowledge is power and feeling powerful automatically reduces stress. Learning the actual facts about my disease really helped me stop freaking out, Mathias says. He did basic research on the internet and brought a list of questions to each doctors appointment. Dont get me wrong, still sucks, but now that I know why I feel the way I do and why my body is acting a certain way, its easier to do what I know Im supposed to be doing, he says.
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What Are The Early Signs Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Early signs of rheumatoid arthritis include tenderness or pain in small joints like those in your fingers or toes. Or you might notice pain in a larger joint like your knee or shoulder. These early signs of RA are like an alarm clock set to vibrate. It might not always been enough to get your attention. But the early signs are important because the sooner youre diagnosed with RA, the sooner your treatment can begin. And prompt treatment may mean you are less likely to have permanent, painful joint damage.
Ask For Help With Day
Recognizing that I couldnt do what I used to do and I needed to ask for help and that it is okay to need help was a huge relief for me, Rachel says. Let loved ones wash dishes, walk the dog, or do the laundry. Or hire someone who can help with housework during severe arthritis flares. This can help reduce anxiety that stems from feeling overwhelmed by your daily demands.
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Neuroendocrine And Immune Mechanisms Implicated In Ra
In recent years, understanding of the interaction between the neuroendocrine and immuneinflammatory systems has increased greatly . Communication between these two systems constitutes a negative feedback control loop which regulates the immune/inflammatory response . Evidence from in vitro, animal and human studies demonstrates that activation of the immune system may constitute a stressor to which the HPA axis responds . In fact, activation of the immune system is associated with increased circulating levels of cytokines such as interleukin -1, IL-6 and tumour necrosis factor alpha . Both peripheral and central administration of IL-1 have been shown to increase circulating adrenocorticotrophic hormone and corticosterone in experimental animals . Similar findings have been reported for IL-6 and TNF- . In humans, administration of IL-6 stimulates the HPA axis even more potently than maximal doses of exogenous synthetic corticotrophin-releasing hormone . In addition, research has implicated the dysregulation of this interaction between neuroendocrine and immune mechanisms as a contributing factor to the initiation and/or perpetuation of inflammatory diseases such as RA .
Exploring The Connection Between Stress And Autoimmune Disease
In this new study, researchers analyzed more than 100,000 people diagnosed with stress-related disorders and compared their tendency to develop autoimmune disease at least one year later with 126,000 of their siblings, and another million people who did not have stress-related disorders.
The study found that individuals diagnosed with a stress-related disorder
- were more likely to be diagnosed with an autoimmune disease
- were more likely to develop multiple autoimmune diseases
- had a higher rate of autoimmune disease if younger.
*Patient-years is an expression that combines how many and for how long people are assessed in a study. If the frequency of a condition is 9 per 1,000 patient-years, that means 9 people would develop the disease among ,1000 patients monitored for 1 year, or among 500 patients monitored for 2 years, and so on).
A particularly important observation was that, for those with PTSD who were being treated with an SSRI , the increased rate of autoimmune disease was less dramatic. While these observations are intriguing, they dont tell us why or how a stress-related disorder might provoke or cause autoimmune disease.
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Autoimmune Disease And Stress: Is There A Link
- By Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing
A new study has raised the possibility that stress may cause autoimmune disease, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, because it found a higher incidence of autoimmune diseases among people who were previously diagnosed with stress-related disorders.
I have patients who heard about this research and are saying, “I knew it!”
But before we accept a potential link between stress and autoimmune disease, lets look at some details of the study and consider how we define the terms “autoimmune disease,” “stress,” and “stress-related disorder.”
The Consequences Of Stress Go Beyond Ra
Experiencing exceptional stress when you have RA may increase the risk for other serious health concerns. For instance, theres evidence that RA patients with higher levels of stress and anxiety are more likely to have atherosclerosis, a buildup of fatty acids in the arteries and precursor to cardiovascular disease. Its also likely that stress ups the chance of depression, anxiety, and gastrointestinal conditions among RA patients, says Dr. Askanase. Obviously, stress is bad for the body in general. Exactly how stress increases vulnerabilitydoes it lead to the production of more inflammatory molecules?is still being investigated.
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Accept Responsibility For What You *can* Do
With arthritis its easy to focus on everything you cant do. However, recognizing everything you can do to help yourself is very empowering and will reduce the stress of your illness, Dr. Larsen says. Accept responsibility for self-care and realize that there is only so much that a doctor or medicine, or anything outside of you can do, she explains. Yes, that puts a lot of responsibility on you as a person trying to get better, but it also empowers you to rely less on outside forces for your well-being and improve your attitude, which is also important to help you cope and heal.
Alternative Treatments For Rheumatoid Arthritis
Its important to keep up with ongoing medical treatments, but there are also many natural remedies for muscle pain and inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis .
Some arthritis natural remedies are easy to do at home, while others require specific equipment or the care of a trained individual.
This article will outline the alternative treatments available for RA and how they may benefit you.
Jacques Hugo / Getty Images
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Does Stress Make Rheumatoid Arthritis Worse
Stress and rheumatoid arthritis are linked. When people experience stressful events, they can have a physical reaction called the flight, fight, or freeze response. This is when the body releases chemicals that can cause an immune or inflammatory response, especially if stress happens too often or lasts too long without relief. This immune or inflammatory response can lead to RA or increased symptoms of RA.
What Are The Goals Of Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis
The most important goal of treating rheumatoid arthritis is to reduce joint pain and swelling. Doing so should help maintain or improve joint function. The long-term goal of treatment is to slow or stop joint damage. Controlling joint inflammation reduces your pain and improves your quality of life.
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Talk To A Doctor About Medication For Your Anxiety
When it comes to effective anxiety treatments, daily medication was the key for Julie. I couldnt do any of those other things people always tell you to do, like eating right and exercising, until I got my anxiety symptoms under control, she says. Talk to your doctor about which medications are safe for you and wont interfere with your arthritis treatments.
If your anxiety is episodic or limited to particular situations you can ask for emergency or fast-acting anxiolytics, which is what Rachel uses. Talk to your doctor about which medications are safe for you and wont interfere with your arthritis treatments.
The Reverse Cause And Effect
People with arthritis must confront the same kinds of stress as everyone else. Additionally, living with chronic arthritis creates another medley of stressful problems. Chronic arthritis adds the stressof pain, fatigue, depression, dependence, altered finances, employment, social life, self-esteem, and self-image.
During stressful times, the body releases chemicals into the bloodstream and physical changes occur. The physical changes give the body added strength and energy and prepare the body to deal with the stressful event. When stress is dealt with positively the body restores itself and repairs any damage caused by the stress. However, when stress builds up without any release, it affects the body negatively.
A vicious cycle occurs in the relationship between arthritis and stress. The difficulties which arise from living with chronic arthritis create stress. The stress causes muscle tension and increased pain along with worsening arthritic symptoms. The worsening symptoms lead back to more stress.
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Investing In Quack Cures
A quack cure is essentially hope in a bottle, an unproven remedy that is ineffective at best and potentially harmful at worst. It is a waste of time and money, especially if you abandon the prescribed treatment from your rheumatologist in favor of the unproven remedy that is cloaked in deception. You risk making your RA worse.
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Are Your Joints Thirsty
Dr. F. Batmanghelidj who studied many chronic and acute signals of dehydration in a stress filled environment in Iran has proposed that dehydration is one of the major causes of rheumatoid arthritis.
However, at present there is no clinical evidence whether or not dehydration is one of the causes of rheumatoid arthritis or affects its progress.
His proposal suggests that even mild dehydration can trigger joint pain in some humans. Furthermore, chronic dehydration would lead to damage to the cartilage, inflammation and angiogenesis, which is consistent with being one of the causes of rheumatoid arthritis.
I include it here as food for thought. Because of the theorys simplicity, it probably will not receive funding to be adequately tested in a clinical setting.
However, you may want to monitor your water intake in case that his theory of dehydration may be one of your causes of rheumatoid arthritis.
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Many People Experience Traumatic Events Are At Risk For Ptsd
Trauma and trauma survival may be more common than you think. About 70 percent of American adults have experienced a traumatic event, and about 20 percent of them go on to develop PTSD as a result, according to the nonprofit PTSD United. That translates into around 7 to 8 percent of Americans having PTSD at some point in their lives, and about 8 million adults having it in any given year, according to the National Center for PTSD.
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How To Deal With Rheumatoid Arthritis And Anxiety
Anxiety can be a powerful and negative emotion or state of being that you experience when you have rheumatoid arthritis . It may manifest itself in a variety of ways, due to the fact that your RA both makes you more vulnerable in terms of health complications and the fact that in general, the diagnosis of a disease can make one anxious.
This can be especially troubling if you are adjusting to life with RA, the possibility of disability and the uncertainty of the future. However, there are many things you can do to keep your anxiety at a manageable level.
Personally, I struggled with anxiety even before I was in constant pain. Although general anxiety and panic attacks dont necessarily go hand-in-hand with RA, a diagnosis or chronic pain main trigger it for those who are more prone to anxiety in general.
If you find you are suddenly beginning to have panic attacks or are having frequent racing thoughts, it is important to discuss this with your doctor, as he or she may be able to prescribe medication to help bring you to a calmer state.
Many people I have spoken to worry that anti-anxiety medication will make it so they can no longer feel, but this is simply not the case. Instead, the anti-anxiety medication will help you relax and cut down on panic attacks.
If your panic attacks are especially bad, you may also be prescribed something to help stop them while they are happening, which is extremely useful for getting over the hump of the most difficult parts.
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