Become A Partner In Your Health Care
Even when people have arthritis there still are many ways of taking care to stay healthy. In addition to arthritis treatment you need to consider such things as being at a healthy weight level, limiting alcohol consumption, not smoking, exercising daily within your physical limitations, eating a balanced and nutritionally sound diet, and managing stress.
Besides physical health you need to be concerned about your emotional health. The status of your emotional health is based on a variety of factors. How well do you communicate? How do you handle anger guilt worry and fear? How good is your self-image? How are you managing your personal relationships? You’ll need to address these questions on an individual basis. Some people find that they are better able to resolve such issues by seeking professional assistance.
Scientists are not yet sure what role emotions might play in the development and course of arthritis. But people with the disease say that they feel better when they have learned more effective ways of coping with the stress in their lives.
You can become a very important partner in your own health care by creating a satisfying and fulfilling lifestyle by caring for your total health and by understanding that it’s normal to experience emotional ups and downs throughout life. In fact overcoming stressful situations often helps us grow and become better equipped to deal with other life challenges.
Living Well With Osteoarthritis: A Guide To Relieving The Pain And Caring For Your Joints
This report focuses primarily on osteoarthritis the most common type of arthritis which affects 27 million Americans. Many people believe its a crippling and inevitable part of growing old. But things are changing. Treatments are better, and plenty of people age well without much arthritis. If you have osteoarthritis, you can take steps to protect your joints, reduce discomfort, and improve mobility all of which are detailed in this Special Health Report, Living Well with Osteoarthritis: A guide to keeping your joints healthy. If you don’t have osteoarthritis, the report offers strategies for preventing it.
Surgery For Hip Arthritis
The progression of hip arthritis and effectiveness of various nonsurgical treatments varies. If nonsurgical options dont provide the desired pain relief and your quality of life suffers, it may be time to consider surgical options, such as:
- Hip replacement surgery, or hip arthroplasty, is a procedure to replace one or both ends of a damaged hip joint with artificial implants.
- Hip fusion is a procedure to fuse the bones of the hip joint together. It used to be the standard surgical treatment for hip arthritis before replacement surgeries became available, but is now a last-resort treatment as it severely impacts mobility.
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Your Range Of Motion Changes
Commonly, people will say their fingers dont straighten anymore or they cant bend or straighten them all the way, Dr. Wallace says. Their fingers dont necessarily hurt more, but they dont work like they used to work. Any range of motion or function changes like these can indicate rheumatoid arthritis progression, even without accompanying pain or tenderness.
Most people with active rheumatoid arthritis have a limited range of motion in the joints most affected by the disease, Dr. Wallace says. For many people, this includes the joints in their hands, which makes it hard to do everyday things, like drink coffee. A lot of people with active rheumatoid arthritis have problems with things like holding coffee cups, gripping steering wheels, chopping vegetables, things that require a tight grip, she says. This is often worse in the morning and gets worse when a person is experiencing a flare.
Depending on your situation, your doctor may recommend using supportive devices, like finger splints, to correct mild deformities. In situations where you have scar tissue or your joint function is severely limited, surgery may be necessary to regain proper functioning, according to Merck Manual.
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Your Lifestyle Is More Sedentary And You’re Moving Less
Regular physical activity is necessary for everyone but especially for people with RA. Research has shown that regular cardiovascular exercise and weight training can substantially improve daily function without exacerbating rheumatoid arthritis disease activity. There are numerous health benefits associated with regular physical activity like improved muscle strength and better bone and joint health which all help your aches and pains feel better. But rest is also needed to restore the body from the bouts of intense pain and fatigue that are characteristic of rheumatoid arthritis. But you cant let taking it easy become a way of life. A sedentary lifestyle may eventually lead to increased pain, fatigue, and weakness, and a lower quality of life.
Regular exercise also has another life-enhancing benefit: It helps reduce your odds of developing cardiovascular disease. Taking good care of your ticker is essential for people with rheumatoid arthritis, because heart problems are more prevalent in people who have RA compared with the general population. Its heart disease that kills you, not the RA, says Domingues. Its very important to talk to your primary care doctor or a cardiologist if you have RA to control your risk factors, such as high cholesterol, obesity, and diabetes.
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Nonsurgical Treatments For Hip Arthritis
- Activity modifications may help reduce painful flare-ups. Avoid activities that aggravate hip arthritis, such as running, jumping and other high-impact exercises.
- Lifestyle modifications, such as weight loss, can help reduce stress on the hip joint.
- Physical therapy exercises can help improve strength in the hip. Engaging in low-impact exercises and activities, such as swimming and cycling, and remaining physically active are key to managing hip arthritis symptoms.
- Heating pads can help soothe inflammation in the hip.
- Medications and injections, such as corticosteroid injections, hyaluronic acid injections, platelet-rich plasma injections, vitamin and mineral supplements, and immunosuppressive or biologic medicines can help control pain and inflammation. Which medications will work best depends on the type of arthritis.
- Walking aids such as a cane or walker provide support when walking.
Watch: Getting Started On Rheumatoid Arthritis Medications
This video is part of an educational project from researchers at Yale University, Berkshire Medical Center, Carnegie Mellon University, Hospital for Special Surgery, CreakyJoints and the Global Healthy Living Foundation, and ArthritisPower. It was made possible with support from the Rheumatology Research Foundation. Watch more videos from this series here.
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Stage : Antibodies Develop And Swelling Worsens
In many cases, RA progresses to the second stage without being diagnosed. In the second stage the body makes the antibodies and the joints start swelling up, Dr. Bhatt says. It can affect other organ systems and cause inflammation there: the lungs, the eyes, a skin rash, and it can even affect the heart. Lumps on the elbows called rheumatoid nodules may also develop.
When it comes to imaging results, the second stage is more confirmative for the diagnosis, Dr. Bhatt says. It has kind of a moth-eaten, chipped off appearance on the X-rays. Ultrasound can also be done, and the most sensitive is an MRI, which would pick up if there are any problems even if the X-ray is normal.
Other Forms Of Arthritis
If you have another form of arthritis, your doctor may recommend some of these same medications. NSAIDs are often recommended to help people with various forms of arthritis cope with pain caused by their condition.
DMARDs are also used to treat other types of arthritis, like PsA and ankylosing spondylitis. Doctors often prescribe corticosteroids for people with various forms of arthritis because they can decrease inflammation.
However, more specific treatments are required for some types of arthritis. For example, someone with gout might need to take a drug that lowers the bodys levels of uric acid. A buildup of uric acid crystals is what causes joint pain and swelling.
Another example is someone with PsA who may need anti-inflammatory medications, such as a DMARD or a biologic drug. They may also need topical creams or light therapy to address the skin disease that can occur with PsA.
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Youre Not Losing Weight If You Need To Which Could Stress Your Knee Joint
The more you weigh, the more stress is placed on the knee joint, which can trigger an increase in pain, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons . Whats more, a study published in August 2017 in the journal Radiology found that when overweight and obese adults lost weight over a two-year period, they significantly slowed down their rate of knee cartilage degeneration.
Can Osteoarthritis Be Prevented Or Avoided
Theres not much you can do to avoid getting osteoarthritis as you age. However, the following may help:
- Try to not overuse your joints.
- Try to avoid jobs or activities that require repetitive movement.
- Maintain a healthy body weight.
- Do strength-training exercises to keep the muscles around your joints strong. This is especially important for weight-bearing joints, such as the hips, knees, and ankles.
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How Reactive Arthritis Is Treated
There is currently no cure for reactive arthritis, but most people get better in around six months. Meanwhile, treatment can help to relieve symptoms such as pain and stiffness.
Severe symptoms may require more powerful steroid medication or disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs .
Read more about treating reactive arthritis.
Can Osteoarthritis Progression Be Stopped
Get advice for managing osteoarthritis, even if you can’t stop its progression.
Question: Four years ago, I was diagnosed withosteoarthritis in my right ankle. Now X-rays show OA in my spine, neck, knuckles, wrists and knees. Can you tell me what caused OA to spread this way, and is there anything I can do to stop it? Answer:
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How You Can Reach Remission
Drug treatment can give you good or even great relief from your symptoms and keep your day-to-day activities close to normal. Early, aggressive treatment with medications known as disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs help ease symptoms and slow joint damage. That makes remission more likely.
You may need to try a combination of drugs until youre in remission.
Stages Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
There are four stages. Each has its own treatment options.
- In the early stages, your joint lining, or synovium, becomes inflamed. The bones arenât damaged yet. But the tissue around them often swells, making your joint stiff and painful.
- In this moderate stage, inflammation damages your cartilage, the cushiony stuff that protects the ends of your bones.
- The joint will be stiff, and you wonât be able to move it as far as you used to. The doctor will say youâve lost range of motion.
- This is the severe stage. Inflammation is wearing away cartilage and causes erosion of bones near your joints. The joints may become unstable. You might start to notice deformities as the bones move around. Youâll have pain, swelling, and loss of motion.
- In end stage RA, inflammation stops, but the damage continues. The joint might stop working. Youâll still have pain, swelling, stiffness, and lack of motion. Your muscles may be weak, too. It could be time for joint replacement surgery.
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When Should I See My Doctor
If you notice symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, or you are concerned that you may have rheumatoid arthritis, you should see your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor may refer you to a rheumatologist who is a doctor that specialises in joints. It is important to act quickly. The sooner you start treatment, the less likely you are to experience permanent joint damage and deformity.
When To See A Doctor About Early Arthritis Signs
You should see a doctor right away if one of your joints suddenly becomes swollen, red and hot to the touch, or if you cant bear weight on it at all, since those can be signs of gout or a serious infection, Haque says.
Arthritis has no cure, but there are steps you can take to minimize pain and stiffness, says Rochelle Rosian, a rheumatologist with the Cleveland Clinic Department of Rheumatologic and Immunologic Diseases. There is a lot we can do to help you feel better, she says. You can live a long and healthy life with arthritis.
Your primary care doctor may be able to treat your symptoms if theyre mild, or he or she may refer you to a rheumatologist, a sports medicine doctor, an orthopedist or a podiatrist, depending on your symptoms and where your problem is located.
Expect your doctor to ask you what makes the pain better and what makes it worse, how long youve had the pain and stiffness and whether you have had any trauma to the area. Its not unusual for a high school sports injury to manifest as arthritis in a joint decades later, Rosian says.
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How To Avoid A Psoriatic Arthritis Relapse
There’s no cure for PsA. Anti-rheumatic drugs don’t change the underlying fact that you’re affected by the disease. There may be places in your body where it still lingers even when your joints don’t feel painful or swollen.
Remission as a result of taking anti-TNF biologics or other medicines is drug-induced, so your doctor will likely recommend you stay on your medication. Three out of 4 people who stopped taking their disease-fighting medication in one small study had symptoms return within 6 months. Fortunately, starting their medication again restored remission.
Although some people can stay in psoriatic arthritis remission without drugs, it’s not common. If you want to try a lower dose or to stop taking a medicine once you’ve reached remission, you’ll need to work with your doctor closely. As soon as symptoms begin, you’ll need your medication again.
Changes in how you handle things in your daily life can also help prevent some PsA symptoms from returning. Some arthritis medications can cause fatigue, so pace yourself and stop to rest before you get tired. Protect your joints, keep your weight in check, and make regular joint-friendly exercise such as walking, swimming, or biking part of your routine.
Signs Your Ra Is Progressing
How can you tell your RA is getting worse? Theres no easy way, but some general signs include:
- Flares that are intense or last a long time
- Diagnosis at a young age, which means the disease has more time to become active in your body
- Rheumatoid nodules bumps under your skin, often around your elbows
- Active inflammation that shows up in tests of joint fluid or blood
- Damage on X-rays when you were diagnosed
- High levels of rheumatoid factor or citrulline antibody in blood tests
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Making Daily Activities Easier
Cooking and cleanup
- Plan meals ahead to lessen last-minute tasks.
- Use electric appliances such as can openers, mixers, crock pots, microwave ovens, and dishwashers to get the job done with less energy and stress on your joints.
- Place a mixing bowl in the sink while stirring. A damp cloth underneath will help keep it from slipping. Hold the mixing spoon like a dagger to take stress off your hands.
- Hammer rustproof nails through a cutting board to secure vegetables while cutting.
- Use a French chef’s knife which keeps hands in good position for cutting slicing and chopping.
- Use disposable aluminum baking pans for easier cleanup.
- Spray a non-stick product on pans or line with foil before baking or frying. Use lightweight baking dishes, plates, pots, and pans and serve from them. Use a wheeled cart to move heavy items from place to place. Sit on a high stool while cooking or washing dishes. Store appliances within easy reach. Use long-handled reachers.
Laundry and housecleaning
In the bathroom
In the bedroom
- Keep files and supplies within easy reach.
- Use vertical files on your desk for current work.
- Install work assist arms or wrist rests at your keyboard.
- Use a glare screen and paper holder on your monitor.
- Use lateral file cabinets for easier access.
Can Arthritis Be Cured
Unfortunately, no. Once the cartilage in joints are damaged, they rarely undergo complete recovery. Does that mean there is no hope for your dog to live a life pain-free from arthritis? Absolutely not. Many dogs with arthritis live virtually pain-free lives with the proper treatment and management. If you suspect your dog may be suffering from arthritis, consult with your veterinarian immediately and explore all options to give your dog the best life possible.
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