Stage : Symptoms Are Visible
In this latter, more severe stage, blood tests and imaging are less relevant for diagnosis because you can actually see the effects of the disease. The joints start becoming bent and deformed, the fingers become crooked, Dr. Bhatt says. These misshapen joints can press on the nerves and can cause nerve pain as well, he says. In the older days we used to see more deformed joints when we did not have much treatment, but now we are seeing less and less, Dr. Bhatt says.
Signs And Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
The main joint symptoms are related to the inflammation and include pain, swelling, redness, warmth, weakness and limitation in range of motion of the affected joints. These joints will be tender to pressure and can occasionally appear red. Inside the joints, the immune system has been activated, and many cells proliferate in the joints producing fluid, and mediators of pain. If left untreated, this process can lead to joint damage.
The joint pains in RA behave in a specific manner and affect multiple joints on both sides of the body in what is called a symmetric pattern. That is, if your left knee is affected, your right knee will likely also be affected.
The joints most likely to be affected are the:
- small joints of the hands and feet
The external signs of inflammation reflect a potentially damaging disease process that can lead to injury to bone, cartilage, and soft tissues such as tendons. If left untreated, this can cause deformities and limitation in function. Fortunately, today we have excellent treatments that can stop this inflammation and avoid further damage.
When the disease is very active, one may also experience weight loss, loss of muscle mass and immune response effects on other organs.
How To Reduce Your Risk Of Arthritis
Even if you cant prevent it, you might be able to lower your chances of developing some forms of arthritis.
The fact is, there is no sure way to prevent arthritis. But you can help reduce your risk and delay the potential onset of certain types of arthritis. If you have healthy joints right now, do all you can now to maintain mobility and function and avoid the pain and disability associated with arthritis.
There are more than 100 types of arthritis and related conditions, and each has associated risk factors, individual features, behaviors and circumstances.
Some risk factors are not modifiable, and there really isnt anything you you can do about them. Being female and having a family history of arthritis are two examples of factors that make people more likely but not certain to get some types of arthritis.
Risk factors that are considered modifiable are the behaviors and circumstances that can be changed in order to reduce risk, delay onset or even prevent arthritis. A few examples of modifiable risk factors for certain types of arthritis and related conditions:
- Osteoarthritis: Maintain a healthy weight.
You May Like: How Long Does Arthritis Last
How Does Joint Pain In Hands And Fingers Affect Members
The symptoms of RA in hands and fingers significantly disrupt myRAteam members daily lives in many ways. Many members report that this type of arthritis makes it hard to grip, pinch, or squeeze things with their hands. Its frustrating to not be able to turn a doorknob, open jars, or lift heavy cookware, said one member. I need both hands to balance a coffee mug, explained another. I cant hold onto my pills without dropping them, said another.
Loss of hand function can also be dangerous. Members say theyve dropped a cup of coffee or lost control of a pot of hot water. One member said, I was changing the toilet paper roll and, because my hands dont work, the holder shot out of my hand and popped me in the eye!
Avoid Excessive Gripping/twisting/turning Tasks
Osteoarthritis symptoms are often triggered by overuse activities. Therefore, to deter an increase in pain and stiffness, avoid excessive gripping/twisting/turning tasks. There are many commercially available items than can help you avoid straining your hands. For instance:
Electric can opener Can significantly decrease the amount of stress on the hand, versus using a manual can opener.
Electric and automatic jar openers Also handy to use at home to decrease strain to the hands.
Read Also: Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Cause Itching
When To Seek Medical Advice
You should see your GP if you think you have symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, so your GP can try to identify the underlying cause.
Diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis quickly is important because early treatment can help stop the condition getting worse and reduce the risk of further problems such as joint damage.
Maintaining A Proper Diet
Don’t Miss: Is Vicks Vaporub Good For Arthritis
Take Your Medications On Schedule
The most important thing you can do to avoid a flare is to take your medicine on time. A regular schedule helps you keep a constant level of medicine in your body. Dont skip doses. Use a pillbox, calendar, or alarm to help stay on track.
DR. GARY MYERSON: When you are
receiving a biologic therapy
its either going to be
intravenous or subcutaneous.
If its going to be
a subcutaneous injection then
you might get a sight reaction,
an area of redness and swelling
from the area that you injected.
The second part if youre
you may get a drug reaction
during the treatment.
And thats why youre doing
the infusions in doctors
Thats the number one side
So we always tell a patient,
youre not going to take
your drug if you have
a cold or symptoms of infection
including a cellulitis a skin
or any cuts, or anything else,
and especially if youre going
for infection is number one.
Its rare to get problems
in your red cells,
or your platelets, or your liver
because of these drugs
are biologics and really dont
suppress the immune system
the same way that DMARDs do.
How Is Rheumatoid Arthritis Treated
There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis. But there are treatment options your doctor can prescribe to help manage your pain and stop further damage to your joints. Your doctor may recommend a combination of medicines, including:
- Pain relief medicines, such as paracetamol.
- Omega-3 supplements. This is a type of fat naturally found in foods such as certain fish that you can take as a food supplement to help with pain and stiffness.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or cyclo-oxygenase-2 selective inhibitors. These are pain relief medicines that your doctor might prescribe when paracetamol and supplements do not relieve your pain and stiffness.
- Disease modifying antirheumatic drugs , such as methotrexate. These are a group of medicines that reduce your symptoms and the damage to your joints, including medicines known as biologic DMARDS .
- Corticosteroids, such as prednisolone. These are medicines that can help manage your pain and stiffness during flare ups. Corticosteroids are available as tablets, or it might be injected by your doctor into a joint to reduce pain.
Other complementary treatments such as massage, acupuncture or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation can help reduce your pain. But they will not reduce the damage to your joints and should not replace your prescribed medications.
Tripterygium wilfordii is a Chinese herb that is not recommended to treat rheumatoid arthritis as it can have dangerous side effects.
The Preclinical Phase Of Ra Development
Multiple studies now demonstrate that there is a preclinical phase of RA development during which there are abnormalities of autoantibodies and inflammatory markers prior to the onset of appearance of the signs and symptoms of joint disease that characterize clinically apparent RA . Some of these studies have been prospectively conducted however, most have utilized biospecimens fortuitously collected prior to the onset of RA. As such, the exact timing of appearance of biomarkers prior to the onset of signs and symptoms of RA has been difficult to identify, but overall RA-related biomarkers, and especially autoantibodies, seem to appear in the circulation on average 35 years prior to the onset of clinically apparent RA.
Risk Factor Modification And Ra Prevention
As discussed above, multiple environmental and lifestyle-based risk factors for RA have been identified, and modifying these to prevent RA is an attractive approach, especially given the potential toxicities of pharmacologic interventions. For example, exposure to tobacco smoke is strongly associated with RA, with some estimates that it explains 30% of the risk for seropositive RA. Based on this, some have proposed that broadly-implemented programs for smoking cessation would result in a significant reduction of RA. In addition, recent attention has focused on the potential role of periodontal inflammation and infection with the organism Porphyromonas gingivalis in the pathogenesis of RA. If this relationship is truly causal, perhaps treatment of periodontal disease/infection may result in reduced risk for future RA.
Read Also: Pain From Ra
Remember: Flares Aren’t Your Fault
Avoiding triggers is important, but you also need to understand the limits of what you can do to stop flares. Sometimes, you do everything right — like taking your medicine regularly, avoiding triggers, eating healthy, and exercising — and still get flares.
So when you have a flare, don’t blame yourself or go crazy trying to track down triggers. Get some extra rest, take care of yourself, and check in with your doctor. You may need to change your medication until the flare ends and you’re feeling like yourself again.
Arthritis Foundation, Arthritis Today: “51 Ways to Be Good to Your Joints,” “Why Skipping Medications is a Bad Idea.”
Hospital for Special Surgery: “How to Protect Your Joints.”
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: “Rheumatoid Arthritis and CAM.”
Arthritis Foundation: “Understanding RA Flares,” “Arthritis Flares Are Normal But Still Difficult,” “Stress and Worry Affect RA,” “Rheumatoid Arthritis and Sleep,” “Rheumatoid Arthritis Self-Care,” “Track+React.”
Johns Hopkins Medicine: “RA Flares: What Triggers a Rheumatoid Arthritis Flare?” “Vaccinations for the Arthritis Patient.”
Cedars-Sinai: “Lifestyle Modifications.”
How Can I Protect My Sore Hands
Here are some ways to protect the joints in your hands:
- Take notice of pain it can serve as a warning that your joints are being overworked. Rather than giving up an activity altogether, try taking regular rests during the activity and learning ways to manage pain. You will usually find you can still do the things you enjoy without discomfort.
- Use larger, stronger joints for example, carry your shopping bags over your shoulder rather than in your hands.
- Spread the load over several joints try carrying things with two hands.
- Reduce the effort you have to put in there is a wide range of labour-saving tools and equipment available. Buy pre-cut vegetables and meat to make cooking easier.
- Avoid gripping things tightly find out about gadgets that can make gripping and holding objects easier.
- See an occupational therapist to learn more ways to make daily tasks easier and take pressure off your joints.
- Visit an Independent Living Centre. These centres have a wide range of tools and equipment on display. You can get advice, including where to purchase equipment, in person or over the phone. Occupational therapists are also available at the centres to provide advice about equipment. Although you can drop in at anytime, it is preferred that you call the telephone enquiry service beforehand.
Read Also: How To Get Rid Of Reactive Arthritis
Read Also: Best Remedy For Arthritis In Fingers
Tips For Eliminating Inflammatory Foods For Rheumatoid Arthritis
Maintaining a healthy diet can be done by simply eliminating or reducing inflammatory foods for rheumatoid arthritis. Here are some tips to help you to better avoid these kinds of foods:
- Always read ingredient labels and look for indicated levels of saturated and trans fats
- Compare different product brands to see which ones have lower levels of unhealthy fats and sugars
- Switch to natural cooking oils like olive or avocado oil
- Avoid deep fried foods or ones that have been cooked at high temperatures
- Choose more low fat and trans-fat-free options when buying packaged foods
- Add more omega-3 fatty acids and reduce omega-6 fatty acids
- Eat as close to nature as possible by consuming less prepackaged and processed foods
If youre concerned about how inflammatory foods for rheumatoid arthritis are affecting your symptoms, talk to your doctor about dietary solutions. Remember to stick to as many fruits, vegetables and whole grains as possible to help lower your inflammation levels.
Read Also: Is Arthritis An Autoimmune Disorder
Talk With Others Who Understand
On myRAteam, the social network for people with rheumatoid arthritis, more than 170,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with rheumatoid arthritis.
How do hand exercises help you reach your goals? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.
You May Like: Can You Get Rid Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Is There A Cure For Rheumatoid Arthritis
There is no cure yet, however, we now know a great deal about what causes RA, and how to control it and prevent joint damage. This is achieved by the early implementation of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs . These are essential to gain rapid control of the disease, in order to avoid joint erosions and long-term limitation of function.
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.
Read Also: Whats Rheumatoid Arthritis
Home Remedies For Arthritis But Only One Works
Arthritis is a common disease affecting millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of new cases are identified each year in the United States.
When you are suffering from arthritis, it quickly becomes clear that its not just joints that are affected. RA can also cause severe fatigue, fevers, weight loss, anemia, in addition to causing additional problems throughout the major organs . Sufferers often experience dry mouth, dry eyes, shortness of breath, damaged nerves, malaise, and small skin lumps, just to name a few.
So, how do you get relief? If you would prefer not to take prescription medications nor undergo surgery, there are several natural home remedies that have some reported rates of success in treating symptoms of RA. Want to know whats so great about these methods, in addition to getting some relief from your symptoms? The products used in these natural remedies are very easy to find. The following seven treatments are the most common homeopathic remedies. Bear in mind that response to these remedies will be different for each individual as the disease presents and progresses differently in each individual. Make sure to discuss with your doctor any home remedies that you are considering as they may interact with your body and prescription medications in ways that you did not realize.
Other Conditions That Can Cause Hand Pain Include:
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Rheumatoid arthritis can raise your risk of this condition, but many other factors can contribute as well, including anatomy of your wrist, nerve-damaging diseases and possibly repetitive hand motions. Its tricky because you could have carpal tunnel syndrome that is related to RA or not at all related to RA.
What Other Risk Factors May Increase Your Likelihood Of Experiencing Ra
* Gender: Women are much more likely to suffer from this autoimmune disorder.* Weight: Overweight individuals are more prone to developing RA.* Smoking: If you smoke, you are more likely to develop RA, and if you develop it, your symptoms may be more pronounced than those who do not smoke.* Age: RA is more likely to hit you in middle age * Environment: Certain environmental exposures have been found to elevate your risk of RA, including exposure to asbestos and silica.
Causes Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. This means your immune system attacks the cells that line your joints by mistake, making the joints swollen, stiff and painful.
Over time, this can damage the joints, cartilage and nearby bone.
It’s not clear what triggers this problem with the immune system, although you’re at an increased risk if:
- you are a woman
Find out more about the causes of rheumatoid arthritis.
Also Check: Arthritis Pain In Hands Relief