Starting And Raising A Family
If you are taking medicines for rheumatoid arthritis, let your healthcare team know if you want to start a family or if you are worried about becoming pregnant while on medication.
Some medications, such as methotrexate, leflunomide and biological treatments, should not be taken by men or women while they are trying for a baby. The doctors and nurses will work with you to ensure your rheumatoid arthritis is controlled while you are trying to get pregnant.
Babies and young children are physically and mentally demanding for any parent, but particularly so if you have rheumatoid arthritis. If you are struggling to cope, it may help to talk to other people in the same situation as you. You may also be able to get additional support from your health visitor or occupational therapist to help you manage your young family.
Reviewing Your Risk Factors
Your doctor may suspect you’re dealing with rheumatoid arthritis if youre a woman because about 75% of people who are diagnosed with RA are female. Some women are diagnosed with RA early, in their 20s or 30s, but a number are diagnosed later, in their 50s or 60s. Men who are diagnosed tend to be older. If you have first-degree family members who have been diagnosed with RA, tell your doctor, because that increases your risk as well.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: Causes Symptoms Treatments And More
Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory type of arthritis that can causes joint pain, swelling and damage. Learn what causes RA and how to treat it.
Rheumatoid arthritis causes joint inflammation and pain. It happens when the immune system doesnt work properly and attacks the lining of the joints . The disease commonly affects the hands, knees or ankles, and usually the same joint on both sides of the body. But sometimes, RA causes problems in other parts of the body as well, such as the eyes, heart and circulatory system and/or lungs. For unknown reasons, more women than men get RA, and it usually develops in middle age. Having a family member with RA increases the odds of developing RA.
In a healthy person, the immune system fights invaders, such as bacteria and viruses. With an autoimmune disease like RA, the immune system mistakes the bodys cells for foreign invaders and releases inflammatory chemicals that attack, in the case of RA, the synovium. Thats the tissue lining around a joint that produces a fluid to help the joint move smoothly. The inflamed synovium gets thicker and makes the joint area feel painful and tender, look red and swollen and moving the joint may be difficult.
Researchers arent sure why some people develop RA. They think that these individuals have certain genes that are activated by a trigger in the environment, like a virus or bacteria, or physical or emotional stress or some other external factor.
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When To See A Doctor
RA can become worse the longer its left untreated. Its important to visit your doctor if youve been living with some of these symptoms for more than a few weeks, especially if youve been noticing joint stiffness that takes a while to loosen up in the mornings.
Even if its not RA, persistent fatigue and a general sense of illness can be the precursor to many inflammation-related issues, so the sooner youre seen by a physician, the better.
Theres no single test that can reveal an RA diagnosis. Instead, youll most likely be diagnosed through blood tests, joint and organ examinations, and X-ray or ultrasound images.
If a positive rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis is found, youll probably be referred to a rheumatologist, a doctor whos had extra training around the treatment of diseases that affect the muscles, bones, joints, ligaments, and tendons.
Symptoms Affecting The Joints
Rheumatoid arthritis is primarily a condition that affects the joints. It can cause problems in any joint in the body, although the small joints in the hands and feet are often the first to be affected.
Rheumatoid arthritis typically affects the joints symmetrically , but this is not always the case.
The main symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis affecting the joints are outlined below.
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When Does The Stiffness Occur
Overall body stiffness is also commonly associated with rheumatoid arthritis. It often occurs when someone has been in a fixed position for a long period of time, such as during sleep. Thats why morning stiffness is one of the main complaints of RA patients.
Closely related to joint stiffness is the following unpleasant sensation
What Are Heberdens Nodes
Heberdens nodes are bony outgrowths that occur on the joints nearest to the fingertips. The nodes often make the hands look crooked or knotty. The affected joint may be painful and stiff, but the node itself may or may not be painful to the touch. Ligaments and other soft tissues can occasionally be involved in Heberdens nodes, too.
Herberdens Nodes | Image courtesy of DermNet
- Stiffness and weakness in your hands
Heberdens nodes are similar to another type of bony growths known as Bouchards nodes. However, Bouchards nodes occur on the middle finger joints rather than those closest to the fingernail. Bouchards nodes are also significantly less common than Heberdens nodes.
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Other Body Parts Ra Can Affect
- Bones. The chemicals that cause inflammation can also take a bite out of your bones. It often affects your hips and spine. Sometimes, itâs a byproduct of years of treating RA with steroids.
- Liver and kidneys. Itâs rare for RA to affect these organs. But the drugs that treat it can. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can be bad for both. Cyclosporine may cause kidney disease. Methotrexate can damage your liver.
- Immune system. The medications you take can slow it down. This makes you more likely to get infections.
- Mucous membranes. You might be more likely to get a condition called Sjogrenâs syndrome that dries out moist places in your body like your eyes, your mouth, and inside your nose.
- Muscles. When inflammation stops you from moving your joints, the attached muscles can get weak. Or you could get a condition called myositis that weakens them. The medications you take for RA can also be to blame.
- Nerves. RA causes symptoms that range from numbness and tingling to paralysis. It can result from joint damage that RA causes, the disease process itself, or medications that treat it.
- Blood vessels. RA can cause inflammation of your blood vessels. It can show up as spots on the skin or can cause ulcers in more severe cases.
What Causes Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. This means that your immune system which usually fights infection attacks the cells that line your joints by mistake, making them swollen, stiff and painful.
Over time, this can damage the joint itself, the cartilage and nearby bone.
Its not clear what triggers this problem with the immune system, although you are at an increased risk if you are a woman, you have a family history of rheumatoid arthritis, or you smoke.
Read more about the causes of rheumatoid arthritis.
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You Cannot Smoke Not Even Socially
When it comes to RA, smoking has been shown to increase your risk of both getting arthritis in the first place and worsen your symptoms after you have it. This makes smoking one of the biggest risks for patients, Dr. Martin says. If youre serious about managing your RA you have to quit smoking. This includes even a social cigarette here and there.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Ra
Many of the symptoms of RA mirror those of PsA. Which is why oftentimes, the presence of psoriasis is a distinguishing factor in what type of arthritis you might be diagnosed with. Flare-ups are also common during RA where the symptoms wax and wane. You might experience time periods of minimal symptoms and times when symptoms flare-up. In both RA and PsA, it is important to try to pinpoint what causes flare-ups. If you can determine underlying factors of the flare-ups , you might be able to minimize the presence of these symptoms. As with PsA, the following are RA symptoms that you may or may not have. You might only experience one or two of these symptoms or you might experience more.
Some of the more common symptoms of RA include:
- Joint stiffness
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You Might Be Aware Of Joint Pain But Its Important To Be Aware Of The Other Ra Symptoms That Can Help Clinch A Diagnosis
Aches and pains are a common part of life at every age, and can occur for many reasons an especially tough workout, too much snow shoveling, lifting something the wrong way, dancing too enthusiastically, or engaging in repetitive hand motions like typing or knitting.
But pain is also the most common symptom of rheumatoid arthritis , a chronic, inflammatory disorder in which the bodys own immune system attacks the lining of the membranes that surround the joints. According to the American College of Rheumatology, RA is the most common type of autoimmune arthritis, affecting more than 1.3 million Americans 75 percent of whom are women. The disease usually strikes first between the ages of 30 and 60.
The symptoms of RA may be obvious or not, and can sometimes mimic other diseases, especially in the early stages. The most common symptoms of RA such as pain, swelling, and tenderness around the joints tend to come on gradually. People may discount minor pains or morning achiness as just a sign of aging or indication of an overuse injury. It may take a while before someone suspects that RA is the cause of their discomfort. But rheumatoid arthritis has many other symptoms as well, and recognizing what they are can help patients get diagnosed and treated as early as possible, so they can prevent or minimize permanent damage to the joints, and lead active, less-painful lives.
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.
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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.
What Is The Patients Role In Treating Or Managing Arthritis
The patient is the most important member of the health care team.
The patient plays an important role in his or her medical care. The patient can contribute to the success of a treatment plan by:
- learning about arthritis
- reporting progress and setbacks to health team
- keeping a positive attitude
- developing relationships with the rest of the health care team
Keeping a positive attitude, though sometimes difficult, is an important ingredient in overcoming arthritis. Asking questions and finding out as much as you can about of arthritis and its treatment is important. So talk over your concerns with your doctor. If you still need more information , ask the nurse, physical therapist, social worker, occupational therapist to help you find answers to your questions.
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Pain And Stress Management
Patients can learn strategies to cope with the stress and frustration of living with chronic pain. Relaxation and stress management techniques such as guided imagery, breathing exercises, hypnosis, or biofeedback can be helpful.
Although there is no definitive evidence to support their efficacy, some patients report relief with modalities such as acupuncture, massage, and mineral baths.
Can I Claim Benefits If I Have Arthritis
There are a number of benefits and grants you may be able to claim if you have arthritis.
Benefits for mobility problems
If youre over State Pension age and you need help with your personal care, such as washing, dressing and going to the toilet, because of your symptoms of arthritis, you may be able to claim Attendance Allowance.
Disabled Facilities Grants
You may be eligible for financial support for home adaptations to help you manage better. This could include installing ramps and handrails, and getting specialist equipment to help you in the kitchen or bathroom.
If you have a friend or family member who looks after you for at least 35 hours a week, they may be able to claim Carers Allowance.
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Symptoms You May Not Realize Are Being Caused By Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis can be difficult to diagnose because no single test confirms it, and its symptoms could point to many other conditions. You may not realize the pain or exhaustion you feel are due to rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic inflammatory condition.
Thats why its so important to consult the team at Valerius Medical Group & Research Center. They can determine if you have rheumatoid arthritis and devise an effective treatment plan to improve your symptoms, reduce flares, and increase your chances of achieving a medical remission.
Why Should Ra Patients Take Weight Loss Seriously
This symptom isnt one to take lightly. After all, not eating enough food can mean depriving the body of nutrients, which can result in malnutrition. And malnutrition can mean a host of complications, including a worsening of arthritis. Furthermore, muscle loss can further inhibit an RA patients mobility.
The solution? Speaking to a doctor to receive proper medications and performing strength-training exercises to build back lost muscle. As counterintuitive as it might seem, getting up and moving is crucial for combating the following symptom of rheumatoid arthritis
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Can You Have Both Ra And Oa
Yes, its possible to have both RA and OA.
While OA usually develops after years of wear and tear on cartilage, people with RA may have it earlier in life due to causes such as sports injuries that result in damage to the cartilage, joints, or ligaments.
People with RA may also develop OA as they get older.
People older than 65 who may have OA can also develop a condition called . Unlike RA, EORA more frequently affects large joints.
Get A Professional Diagnosis
Although these symptoms are all present with arthritis, they dont definitively diagnose you. Only a trained medical professional like Dr. Kimes can do that. He uses X-rays and CT scans to either pinpoint your arthritis or rule it out.
If you dont have arthritis, he gets to the bottom of your pain and other symptoms so he can identify and treat the underlying cause.
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What Is The Difference
Rheumatoid arthritis vs. osteoarthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are both common causes of pain and stiffness in joints. But they have different causes. In osteoarthritis, inflammation and injury break down your cartilage over time. In rheumatoid arthritis, your immune system attacks the lining of your joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis vs. gout
Rheumatoid arthritis and gout are both painful types of arthritis. Gout symptoms include intense pain, redness, stiffness, swelling and warmth in your big toe or other joints. In gout, uric acid crystals cause inflammation. In rheumatoid arthritis, its your immune system that causes joint damage.