Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Groups And Counseling
Living with the effects of rheumatoid arthritis can be difficult. Sometimes people can feel frustrated, perhaps even angry or resentful. Sometimes it helps to have someone to talk to.
This is the purpose of support groups. Support groups consist of people in the same situation. They come together to help each other and to help themselves. Support groups provide reassurance, motivation, and inspiration. They can help people see that their situation is not unique, and that gives them power. They also provide practical tips on coping with the disease.
Support groups meet in person, on the telephone, or on the Internet. Ask a health-care professional or contact the following organizations or look on the Internet to find a suitable support group. If someone does not have access to the Internet, go to the public library.
- Arthritis Foundation
Living With Rheumatoid Arthritis
There is no cure for RA. But it is important to help keep your joints working well by reducing pain and inflammation. Work on a treatment plan with your healthcare provider that includes medicine and physical therapy. Work on lifestyle changes that can improve your quality of life. Lifestyle changes include:
- Activity and rest. To reduce stress on your joints, switch between activity and rest. This can help protect your joints and lessen your symptoms.
- Using assistive devices. Canes, crutches, and walkers can help to keep stress off certain joints and to improve balance.
- Using adaptive equipment. Reachers and grabbers let you extend your reach and reduce straining. Dressing aids help you get dressed more easily.
- Managing the use of medicines. Medicines for this condition have some risks. Work with your healthcare provider to create a plan to reduce this risk.
- Seeking support. Find a support group that can help you deal with the effects of RA.
What Is The Prognosis Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
As a rule, the severity of rheumatoid arthritis waxes and wanes. Periods of active inflammation and tissue damage marked by worsening of symptoms are interspersed with periods of little or no activity, in which symptoms get better or go away altogether . The duration of these cycles varies widely among individuals.
Outcomes are also highly variable. Some people have a relatively mild condition, with little disability or loss of function. Others at the opposite end of the spectrum experience severe disability due to pain and loss of function. Disease that remains persistently active for more than a year is likely to lead to joint deformities and disability. Approximately 40% of people have some degree of disability 10 years after their diagnosis. For most, rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic progressive illness, but about 5%-10% of people experience remission without treatment. This is uncommon, however, after the first three to six months.
Rheumatoid arthritis is not fatal, but complications of the disease shorten life span by a few years in some individuals. Although generally rheumatoid arthritis cannot be cured, the disease gradually becomes less aggressive and symptoms may even improve. However, any damage to joints and ligaments and any deformities that have occurred are permanent. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect parts of the body other than the joints.
Recommended Reading: Can You Exercise With Arthritis
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.
Small Blood Vessel Nerve Symptoms
RA may damage the small vessels that feed the nerves. This damage is known as rheumatoid vasculitis . RV impacts only about 1 percent of those with RA, but the condition may be severe. RV can cause damage to the nerves of the hands and feet, which can disable the person impacted. RV may lead to damage to multiple nerves in the body. Signs of RV may include:2
- Numbness, tingling, burning, or pain in the hands or feet
- Muscle weakness or paralysis
- Muscle wasting, or loss of muscle
Although rare, RV may affect the small vessels in the brain. This may increase the risk of conditions such as stroke.2
Recommended Reading: Are There Tests For Arthritis
Ra Symptoms In Your Joints
RA almost always affects your joints. It may take a few weeks or months for the first signs to show. The inflammation it causes often leads to these three hallmark symptoms:
- Pain.Inflammation inside a joint makes it hurt whether youâre moving it or not. Over time, it causes damage and pain.
- Swelling. Fluid in the joint makes it puffy and tender.
- Tenderness. It hurts when you move or push on a joint.
Other RA symptoms include:
- Stiffness. The joint is harder to use and doesn’t move as well as it should. Itâs especially common in the morning. Although many people with other forms of arthritis have stiff joints in the morning, it takes people with rheumatoid arthritis more than an hour before their joints feel loose.
- Redness and warmth. The joints may be warmer and have color changes related to the inflammation.
Heart And Lung Problems
Many people dont realize that chest pain and shortness of breath can be symptoms of RA. In fact, heart and lung problems can be a serious complication of the disease. People with RA have an increased incidence of blocked and hardened arteries, which could lead to heart attack or stroke, especially if they also smoke.
Pericarditis, or inflammation of the sac that surrounds the heart, is also more common in people with RA. Chronic inflammation can also damage lung tissues, resulting in reduced lung function.
Other symptoms of RA include:
- sleep difficulties, often due to pain
What Are The Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
The joints most often affected by RA are in the hands, wrists, feet, ankles, knees, shoulders, and elbows. The disease often causes inflammation in the same areas on both sides of the body. Symptoms may begin suddenly or slowly over time. Each persons symptoms may vary, and may include:
These symptoms can seem like other health conditions. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
How Is Arthritis Diagnosed
It’s important to find out if you have arthritis and what type it is because treatments vary for each type. Early diagnosis and treatment are important to help slow or prevent joint damage that can occur during the first few years for several types.
Only a doctor can tell if you have arthritis and what type it is. When you see your doctor for the first time about arthritis, expect at least three things to happen. Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms examine you and take some tests or X-rays.
You can help your doctor by writing down information about your symptoms before your appointment. Bring your answers when you see your doctor.
Arthritis may limit how far or how easily you can move a joint. Your doctor may move the joint that hurts or ask you to move it. This is to see how far the joint moves through its normal range of motion. Your doctor may also check for swelling, tender points, skin rashes or problems with other parts of your body.
Finally your doctor may conduct some laboratory tests. These may include tests of your blood, muscles, urine or joint fluid. They also may include X-rays or scans of your body. The tests will depend on what type of arthritis your doctor suspects. They help confirm what type of arthritis your doctor suspects based on your medical history and physical exam and help rule out other diseases that cause similar symptoms.
Read Also: How To Get Tested For Psoriatic Arthritis
What’s 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 doctor’s 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.
The Impact Of Tendon Involvement In Rheumatoid Patients
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, Rheumatoid arthritis is not an isolated disease of the bones and joints. It affects tissues throughout the body, causing damage to the blood vessels, nerves, and tendons.Tendons are actually the cause of much disfigurement caused by Rheumatoid disease. Such problems are more evident in hands and feet because the bones and muscles are smaller, but any tendon or supportive tissue can be affected. For example, trigger finger, a common problem with RA, is caused by a form of tenosynovitis. Surgeons can sometimes relieve pain or correct deformities caused by the effects of Rheumatoid disease on tendons: To fix the bend in the toes themselves, the surgeon may suggest cutting a tendon or removing a small portion of bone of the toes to allow them to straighten.
Weve discussed the significance of tendonitis and tenosynovitis with regard to Rheumatoid disease activity . Patients might notice symptoms like pulling, stretching, spasms, weakness, or cramping. From experience, I can attest to the rubber banded toes, and hands or feet that seem to possess a mind of their own. Like most Rheumatoid disease activity, the usage principle can be a factor.
We should not underestimate Rheumatoid disease by being fooled into thinking it remains in the synovial membranes of MCP joints.
Also Check: Can You Get Arthritis In Your Head
Rheumatoid Arthritis And Your Hands And Feet
Since RA is a condition of the joints, its obvious that it affects a persons hands and feet. But beyond pain, RA can cause other distortions and deformities if it is not treated as early as possible with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs .
Some of the most common symptoms affecting the hands include locking joints, ulnar drift , swan neck deformities , and even ruptured tendons. All these effects can make basic life tasks such as writing, holding objects, and unscrewing lids difficult.
The hands can also be affected by muscle cramping, which can be relieved by gentle movements and warm compresses. More concerning, the swelling of RA may put pressure on the median nerve , causing numbness or carpal tunnel syndrome. See your doctor if you experience any of these.
In the feet, uncontrolled inflammation may lead to painful conditions like hammertoes , bunion , pes planus , and valgus hind foot .
In addition to seeing your rheumatologist and, if necessary, a podiatrist, you may also consult an occupational or physical therapist. These experts help you learn ways of moving that are less painful and that strengthen muscles, says Rebecca Manno, MD, a rheumatologist and adjunct assistant professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.
Rashes Ulcers And Bumps: How Ra Affects Your Skin
Up to 30 percent of people with RA develop rheumatoid nodules knots of inflammatory tissue just under the skin near a joint, according to research published in the journal Autoimmunity Reviews. Most often appearing on the elbows, hands, and feet, they can be treated with a steroid injection if they become bothersome.
All the conditions that affect the skin tend to resolve once RA is controlled with DMARD medications.
Also Check: Is Arthritis An Autoimmune Disorder
Is Muscle Weakness A Symptom Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
May 26, 2017. Rheumatoid arthritis is an incurable autoimmune disease that can cause chronic joint pain, muscle weakness, fatigue and physical disability, and it requires. Many of the participants indicated that RA symptoms challenge their masculinity, particularly when they need to ask for help performing previously.
Weight change, fatigue, nervousness or muscle aches could indicate stress, but they could also be symptoms of certain thyroid conditions. Diagnosing.
Fatigue and weakness is a universally common symptom in RA and is. Deconditioning or loss of muscle and stamina. Fatigue in rheumatoid arthritis.
List of causes of Muscle pain and Rheumatoid arthritis, alternative diagnoses, rare causes, misdiagnoses, patient stories, and much more.
Find A Once Daily Oral Rx Treatment Option For Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Muscle strain caused by forceful movements against stiff joints can also cause arthritic pain. The different forms of arthritis While there are numerous forms of arthritis, the three most significant ones include osteoarthritis,
Protalex SpA Treatment For Rheumatoid Arthritis Could Be A Blockbuster Rheumatoid Arthritis Background. of relapsing and remitting symptoms. Systemic symptoms include early morning stiffness of the affected joints, generalized afternoon fatigue, anorexia, generalized weakness, and fever. The detailed.
Discover the 5 Common Signs and Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Get the Facts on Causes, Symptoms and Treatments of RA. Learn More Now
What Are Medical Treatments For Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a progressive inflammatory disease. This means that unless the inflammation is stopped or slowed, the condition will continue to worsen with joint destruction in most people. Although rheumatoid arthritis does occasionally go into remission without treatment, this is rare. Starting treatment as soon as possible after diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is strongly recommended. The best medical care combines medication and nondrug approaches.
Nondrug approaches include the following:
Drug approaches include a variety of medications used alone or in combinations.
Don’t Miss: How Do X Rays Show Arthritis
Why Do Joints Make Popping And Cracking Noises
Joints can make different noises–some are serious and some are not.
Some people learn how to “pop their knuckles.” By pushing or pulling a joint in a certain way an air bubble can suddenly appear in the joint with a “pop.” Once the bubble is there the joint cannot be popped again until the air has been reabsorbed.
Some joints crack as the ligaments and tendons that pass over them slide past bumps on the bones. Individuals who “crack their neck” make noise in this way.
Other joints lock up intermittently–often with a loud pop–because something gets caught in between the joint surfaces. A torn cartilage in the knee or a loose piece of bone or cartilage in the joint can do this. Once a joint is stuck in this way, it may need to be wiggled around to unlock it. This may also cause a pop.
Finally joints that are arthritic may crack and grind. These noises usually occur each time the joint is moved. This noise is due to the roughness of the joint surface due to loss of the smooth cartilage.
Can Rheumatoid Arthritis Affect Your Muscles
Now you know that RA is systemic inflammatory disease that can affect many parts of the body. It can also affect your muscles. For example, sometimes it is associated with muscle problems such as myositis and myocarditis!
It is a term that refers to the inflammation of the muscles. It can result from certain medications, infections, or an underlying medical condition with the immune system .
There are several types of myositis. The main ones associated with the abnormality of the immune system are polymyositis and dermatomyositis.
It can affect many different muscles of your body especially muscles of your hips, thigh, shoulders, neck, and upper arms. The symptom usually develops gradually.
Typically, the muscle weakness affects both sides of the body. For example, if you have it in your left shoulders muscles, you tend to also have the same problem in your right shoulder. But it is usually not followed with skin rash.
Polymyositis is quite rare, but it can occur together with RA or another autoimmune disease. Its incurable, though prompt treatment can help preserve and improve your muscle strength & function. The goal of the treatment is to make the disease go into remission.
Poorly-controlled polymyositis can turn into serious. Over time, it may cause some of the following complications:
Read Also: What Tests Are Done For Rheumatoid Arthritis
Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Cause Muscle Pain
To work properly, your joints require muscles. Together, they are essential elements to support your movement. Rheumatoid arthritis or RA can affect the muscles in the involved joints, causing muscle pain. The bad news, the pain could be widespread.
Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms how do they progress?
Typically, the symptoms of this autoimmune disorder of arthritis develop gradually. The occurrence can take several weeks until you notice the first symptom.
It usually starts with stiffness in one joint such as wrists, soles of feet, or hands particularly in the morning and will improve by mid-day. This symptom may be vague for a while or may come & go at first, but it will become a regular occurrence as the disease gets worse. It will be followed with other classic symptoms of joint problem such as pain and swelling. Then other joints such as knees, elbows, or ankles could be affected, too.
Another interesting fact, the symptoms of RA tend to affect the joint symmetrically. For instance, once you have it in the left wrist, you are more likely to also have it in your right wrist. See also the differences between RA and OA in this section!
However in a few cases, the occurrence of the symptoms could be slightly different, these include:
And each case can be unique and different. Sometimes RA is off for several months or even years, but in a few cases it can be constantly progressive.