Can I Prevent Rheumatoid Arthritis
Researchers are looking at ways to prevent RA, but there are currently no specific ways to do this. They have been able to delay, but not prevent, the onset of RA. Currently, smoking is the only lifestyle factor that appears to have a strong link with RA, so quitting smoking may be able to reduce the risk.
The Difference Between Rheumatoid Arthritis And Osteoarthritis
Like RA, people with osteoarthritis can experience painful and stiff joints that make moving around difficult.
People with OA may have joint swelling after extended activity, but OA doesnt cause significant enough inflammatory reaction to result in redness of the affected joints.
Unlike RA, OA isnt an autoimmune disease. Its related to the natural wear and tear of the joints as you age, or it can develop as a result of trauma.
OA is most often seen in older adults. However, it can sometimes be seen in younger adults who overuse a particular joint such as tennis players and other athletes or those whove experienced a severe injury.
RA is an autoimmune disease. The joint damage from RA isnt caused by normal wear and tear. Its caused by your body attacking itself.
Why Is Early Diagnosis Of Ra Important
RA can worsen and destroy joints overtime, so early diagnosis and treatment is important. Symptoms may include:
Swelling that can severely damage or destroy ligamentsCLOSELigaments: tissue that connects bone to boneholding structures together and providing stability., joint cartilageCLOSEJoint cartilage: tissue that covers the ends of the bones, providing cushion for a joint. , and bone
You May Like: Does Acupuncture Help Rheumatoid Arthritis
How Your Ra Treatment Plan Prevents Disease Progression
Perhaps the biggest factor that affects how RA progresses is if youre in treatment with a specialist who can put you on medications to slow the disease. Being on a DMARD or biologic therapy for RA is the best way to prevent progression, Dr. Lally says.
Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs are usually the first line in medication. Methotrexate is the anchor drug for rheumatoid arthritis, Dr. Bhatt says. Some patients are scared because methotrexate is also used for cancer chemotherapy so they dont want to take a chemo pill, but those we use for RA are a very small dose with lesser chance of side effects. Your doctor will reassess in a month or so and see if its necessary to add in other drugs.
If after three to six months they have still not responded then we progress to medications called biologics, Dr. Bhatt says. These genetically engineered drugs target the inflammation process specifically, and are usually self-injected or infused via IV in your doctors office or a medical center. There are sub-classes and different types, Dr. Bhatt says. Your doctor will try various medications to see which you respond best to.
What Medications Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis
Early treatment with certain drugs can improve your long-term outcome. Combinations of drugs may be more effective than, and appear to be as safe as, single-drug therapy.
There are many medications to decrease joint pain, swelling and inflammation, and to prevent or slow down the disease. Medications that treat rheumatoid arthritis include:
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Golimumab .
- Tocilizumab .
Biologics tend to work rapidly within two to six weeks. Your provider may prescribe them alone or in combination with a DMARD like methotrexate.
Does Stress Affect Rheumatoid Arthritis
Patients commonly report that stress, either physical or emotional, was present or severe when their RA began. This is true in other autoimmune disorders as well. Since the mind-body connection is very real, most doctors agree that there is a link between stress and disease onset or flares.
Because there are clear interactions between the nervous, immune and endocrine systems, the impact of stress on disease presentation and severity is explainable in physiologic terms. Obviously, life is stressful. Thus, how to employ stress reduction in a therapeutic regimen is up to the individual patient, in concert with the physician. Many patients have found benefits from mindfulness programs that facilitate learning tools to reduce the impact of stress.
Early Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms
In the early stages of rheumatoid arthritis, it is common to feel characteristic symptoms of pain and stiffness. The specific symptoms, their severity, and timing differ in each patient and may be related to how aggressively the immune system is attacking the bodys healthy tissues.
Some of the most common RA signs and symptoms include:
- Pain and tenderness in joints for at least six consecutive weeks
- Stiffness and loss of range of motion in the joints
- Stiffness in the morning lasting at least 30 minutes and up to several hours
- Pain and soreness in one or multiple joints
- Involvement of joints on both sides of the body
- Pain and soreness in small joints like knuckles and toes
Don’t Miss: Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Make You Feel Sick
What Are The Risk Factors For Ra
Researchers have studied a number of genetic and environmental factors to determine if they change persons risk of developing RA.
Characteristics that increase risk
- Age. RA can begin at any age, but the likelihood increases with age. The onset of RA is highest among adults in their sixties.
- Sex. New cases of RA are typically two-to-three times higher in women than men.
- Genetics/inherited traits. People born with specific genes are more likely to develop RA. These genes, called HLA class II genotypes, can also make your arthritis worse. The risk of RA may be highest when people with these genes are exposed to environmental factors like smoking or when a person is obese.
- Smoking. Multiple studies show that cigarette smoking increases a persons risk of developing RA and can make the disease worse.
- History of live births. Women who have never given birth may be at greater risk of developing RA.
- Early Life Exposures. Some early life exposures may increase risk of developing RA in adulthood. For example, one study found that children whose mothers smoked had double the risk of developing RA as adults. Children of lower income parents are at increased risk of developing RA as adults.
- Obesity. Being obese can increase the risk of developing RA. Studies examining the role of obesity also found that the more overweight a person was, the higher his or her risk of developing RA became.
Characteristics that can decrease risk
Read Also: What Can Be Done For Arthritis
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.
You May Like: Is Cherry Juice Good For Rheumatoid Arthritis
Get In The Weeds With Medication Details
Arthritis treatments arent one-size-fits-all. Finding the right treatment plan may take fine-tuning over months or years to find what works best for you. Be an active participant in this process by asking questions about medication timing, how long it takes to kick in, how it interacts with other treatments, how to tell if its working, and what the side effects are, Brandy says. She was surprised to discover recently that some of the treatments shed been using for years particularly high doses of NSAIDs can have serious long-term side effects. On that note
Whats The Normal Sed Rate For Rheumatoid Arthritis
Sed rate is a blood test that helps detect inflammation in your body. Your healthcare provider may also use this test to watch how your RA progresses. Normal sed rates are as follows:
|People designated male at birth||Erythrocyte sedimentation rate|
|> 50 years old||30 mm/hr|
In rheumatoid arthritis, your sed rate is likely higher than normal. To take part in clinical trials related to rheumatoid arthritis, you usually need an ESR of 28 mm/hr. With treatment, your sed rate may decrease. If you reach the normal ranges listed above, you may be in remission.
You May Like: How To Get Diagnosed With Psoriatic Arthritis
What Does Ra Look And Feel Like
RA may be most visible in your hands and feet, particularly as the disease progresses and especially if you dont currently have a treatment plan.
Swelling of fingers, wrists, knees, ankles, and toes are common. Damage to ligaments and swelling in the feet can cause a person with RA to have trouble walking.
If you dont get treatment for RA, you may develop severe deformities in your hands and feet. Deformities of the hands and fingers may cause a curved, claw-like appearance.
Your toes can also take on a claw-like look, sometimes bending upward and sometimes curling under the ball of the foot.
You may also notice ulcers, nodules, bunions, and calluses on your feet.
Lumps, called rheumatoid nodules, can appear anywhere on your body where joints are inflamed. These can range in size from very small to the size of a walnut or larger, and they can occur in clusters.
How Is Rheumatoid Arthritis Treated
Joint damage generally occurs within the first two years of diagnosis, so its important to see your provider if you notice symptoms. Treating rheumatoid arthritis in this window of opportunity can help prevent long-term consequences.
Treatments for rheumatoid arthritis include lifestyle changes, therapies, medicine and surgery. Your provider considers your age, health, medical history and how bad your symptoms are when deciding on a treatment.
You May Like: What Rheumatoid Arthritis Feels Like
Doctors Dont Know What Triggers The Process But Believe Several Risk Factors Are Involved:
- Gender. Women are two to three times more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, leading researchers to believe that hormones may play a role in preventing or triggering the disease.
- Age. RA can occur at any age, but usually begins in middle age.
- Family history. An individual who has a family member with RA has an increased risk of developing the disease.
- Smoking. Smoking is also associated with increased severity of RA.
- Environment. Exposure to asbestos or silica carries increased risk.
Dont Miss: Rheumatoid Arthritis In Shoulders And Neck
What Are The Different Types Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis usually begin gradually in several joints. Sometimes the symptoms begin only in one joint, and sometimes the symptoms begin initially in the whole body, with generalized stiffness and aching, and then localize to the joints.
- Typical classic rheumatoid arthritis is the most common type of rheumatoid arthritis. Classic rheumatoid arthritis involves three or more joints. Usually, people have a gradual onset of joint pain, stiffness, and joint swelling, usually in the fingers, wrists, and forefeet. Elbows, shoulders, hips, ankles and knees are also commonly affected.
- About 80% of people with rheumatoid arthritis are classified as seropositive, which simply means the rheumatoid factor blood test is abnormal. Some people with an abnormal rheumatoid factor also have an abnormal anti-CCP blood test. This is another blood test for rheumatoid arthritis.
- Approximately 20% of people with rheumatoid arthritis are classified as seronegative, which means the rheumatoid factor blood test is negative, or normal. In this case, the anti-CCP blood test may be abnormal or normal. Other blood tests, such as the ESR measure of inflammation, may be abnormal.
Atypical presentations of RA
- Persistent arthritis of just one joint may be the first symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis in some people.
- Some people experience generalized aching, stiffness, weight loss, and fatigue as their initial symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE
Recommended Reading: Where Does Hip Arthritis Hurt
How Is Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider may refer you to a physician who specializes in arthritis . Rheumatologists diagnose people with rheumatoid arthritis based on a combination of several factors. Theyll do a physical exam and ask you about your medical history and symptoms. Your rheumatologist will order blood tests and imaging tests.
The blood tests look for inflammation and blood proteins that are signs of rheumatoid arthritis. These may include:
- Erythrocyte sedimentation rate or sed rate confirms inflammation in your joints.
- C-reactive protein .
- About 80% of people with RA test positive for rheumatoid factor .
- About 60% to 70% of people living with rheumatoid arthritis have antibodies to cyclic citrullinated peptides .
Your rheumatologist may order imaging tests to look for signs that your joints are wearing away. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause the ends of the bones within your joints to wear down. The imaging tests may include:
In some cases, your provider may watch how you do over time before making a definitive diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis.
Explain The Pain Is It Osteoarthritis Or Rheumatoid Arthritis
If opening jars becomes more difficult because of painful hands, or if climbing stairs produces pain in your knees, arthritis is often the first thing that comes to mind. The two most common forms of arthritisosteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritiscan cause similar aches and pains, but there are a few key differences between them. For example:
Onset. Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage wears away. Pain occurs when bone rubs against bone. This type of arthritis pain tends to develop gradually and intermittently over several months or years.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis affecting 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 report. If you dont have osteoarthritis, the report offers strategies for preventing it.
Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is an inflammatory condition in which your immune system attacks the tissues in your joints. It causes pain and stiffness that worsen over several weeks or a few months. And joint pain isnt always the first sign of rheumatoid arthritissometimes it begins with flu-like symptoms of fatigue, fever, weakness, and minor joint aches.
Also Check: Is Cabbage Bad For Arthritis
Use Heat And Cold To Relieve Pain
Applying heat, either with a heating pad or warm water, can help relieve rheumatoid arthritis pain temporarily, the Mayo Clinic says. Katy says that taking regular baths with generous handfuls of Epsom salt helps ease her pain and stiffness.
Samantha sometimes uses a heating pad and she also swims in a heated pool when she is feeling well enough. When I get into an 80-degree pool, all the pain goes away, she says. I dont do it more often because of all the pain it takes to get to the pool. She also has a bathtub that she uses occasionally to get some relief.
On the flip side, exposure to cold temperatures may also reduce pain and inflammation, says the Mayo Clinic, which suggests using cold packs on your muscles after intense exercise. Be sure to put something between your skin and the pack to protect yourself.
Recommended Reading: Rheumatoid Arthritis Rash Itchy
Warning Signs That Rheumatoid Arthritis Is Getting Worse
These tips and clues may help you gauge the severity of your rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis, also known as RA, is a joint disease characterized by inflammation and pain. The condition is also three times more likely to impact women, according to research published in the journal Rheumatology International. And one of the trickiest things about treating rheumatoid arthritis is that this autoimmune disease doesnt progress the same in everyone who has it. Some people will be able to manage their symptoms entirely, while others will see their disease grow worse.
Despite all the research thats been done, who may develop severe rheumatoid arthritis and joint damage and whose joint damage will slow over time still remain somewhat of a medical mystery. I dont know when I see someone over the first two or three visits how serious it will be, says John J. Cush, MD, a professor of internal medicine and rheumatology at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
Recommended Reading: Is Cherries Good For Arthritis
How Do You Know If You Have Arthritis In Your Hands
Recognizing Symptoms of Arthritis in the Hands Pain in some or all of the joints, including joints of the fingers, wrists, and thumbs. The growth of bony knobs on finger joints. Numbness in fingers. Swollen, red, or warm joints. Stiffness in the fingers, especially in the morning in patients who have rheumatoid arthritis.
Read Also: What Does Ra Feel Like
Symptoms That Affect Your Skin
Some people with RA get rheumatoid nodules. These are bumps under the skin. Most of the time, they arenât painful, and they move easily when you touch them. About one in four people with RA get these skin bumps.
They usually happen on your elbows, but they might show up on other bony areas like:
Recommended Reading: What Can Doctors Do For Arthritis