Saturday, May 18, 2024

How Does Arthritis Affect The Body

The Synovial Tissue Becomes Inflamed

How arthritis affects your body

Many parts of the body, including joints, tendons, and bursae, are surrounded by a delicate membrane lining called synovial tissue . Rheumatoid arthritis causes the synovial lining surrounding a joint to become inflamed. This condition is called synovitis, and it can cause joint pain, stiffness, and swelling.

How Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Affect The Entire Body

Like many autoimmune diseases, rheumatoid arthritis typically waxes and wanes. Most people with rheumatoid arthritis experience periods when their symptoms worsen separated by periods in which the symptoms improve. With successful treatment, symptoms may even go away completely .

Although rheumatoid arthritis can have many different symptoms, joints are always affected. Rheumatoid arthritis almost always affects the joints of the hands , wrists, elbows, knees, ankles, and/or feet. The larger joints, such as the shoulders, hips, and jaw, may be affected. The vertebrae of the neck are sometimes involved in people who have had the disease for many years. Usually at least two or three different joints are involved on both sides of the body, often in a symmetrical pattern. The usual joint symptoms include the following:

These symptoms may keep someone from being able to carry out normal activities. General symptoms include the following:

  • Malaise

Why Do I Have Arthritis On One Side Of My Body

You may have arthritis on one side of your body if the muscles on that side are weaker and cannot adequately support your joints, leading to increased joint pressure and cartilage breakdown. Alternatively, arthritis may also develop on one side of your body if you repetitively use one side more than the other, especially your dominant hand, since repetitive activities put chronic stress on joints that can wear down cartilage over time.

Also Check: Finger Arthritis Relief

General Signs And Symptoms Of Arthritis

Symptoms as related to direct causes vary. The type of arthritis is directly related to the pattern and location of arthritic symptoms.

The general signs and symptoms associated with all variations of arthritis include:

  • Joint pain, swelling and stiffness
  • Joint tenderness and inflammation
  • Redness of the skin surround affected joints
  • Loss of hand grip or grip strength

These symptoms may be at the worst first thing in the morning. Symptoms may develop suddenly or over a period of time . Symptoms can also occur in flares and as damage worsens, may begin to persist for longer periods.

Pain in the joints can fluctuate in varying degrees or be constant. It may be isolated to one specific area of the body or in multiple parts, depending on the number of affected joints. Stiffness is more often a problem first thing in the morning once awake, but can also be problematic after sitting for long periods of time, and even after exercise.

As some types of arthritis are closely associated with other types of conditions, a range of related symptoms over and above those which affect the joints can be experienced as well. Types of symptoms in this regard include fatigue, fever, swollen lymph nodes, weight loss, general malaise, as well as a range of others showing problems with the heart, lungs and kidneys.

Ra And The Respiratory System

More Than Just Joints: How Rheumatoid Arthritis Affects the Rest of ...

Your lungs, says Dr. Chu, may be where RA starts. This could be due in part to smokings impact on the lungs, but other causes are also suspected. Theres a theory that the initial disease may begin in the lungs and then, with time, move into the joints, he explains. Untreated inflammation caused by RA can have serious consequences in your lungs, such as scarring, a condition called interstitial lung disease. It presents itself with shortness of breath or a dry, persistent cough, says Dr. Pala. Those would be alarming symptoms. And theres bad news: even if you successfully treat your RA, it may not help your lungs. We dont have a lot of effective treatments for lung disease, says Dr. Pala.

Read Also: Hand Arthritis Remedies

Also Check: Best Treatment For Rheumatoid Arthritis In Hands

Can I Still Drive If I Have Rheumatoid Arthritis

For many people who have rheumatoid arthritis, driving a car is important to help them stay independent and mobile. And it helps people to stay socially active, especially if they live in the countryside.

It’s often still possible to drive a car even if you have rheumatoid arthritis. But over time, the symptoms may make it increasingly difficult to drive. There are many things that may be more and more of a problem, like taking a fast glimpse over your shoulder, steering safely, and shifting gears quickly or reacting to a dangerous situation in time. Some specialized modifications may be able to help, such as an additional mirror for people who aren’t able to turn their head very well. It’s also important that the step up into the car isn’t too high. An automatic car can be easier to drive. In some cases it may be possible to adjust the car to make it more suitable for a disabled driver.

Many drivers also change their driving habits on the road. They make sure to avoid busier times of the day, like rush hour, and don’t drive when they’re having a “bad day.” For people who have a severe walking disability, it can help to have their disability ID card marked with “special walking disability” : This makes it possible to park in special handicapped parking spaces.

What Are Complications Of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Common complications of rheumatoid arthritis include the following:

Overall, the rate of premature death is higher in people with rheumatoid arthritis than in the general population. The most common causes of premature death in people with rheumatoid arthritis are infection, vasculitis, and poor nutrition. Fortunately, the manifestations of severe, long-standing disease, such as nodules, vasculitis, and deforming are becoming less common with optimal treatments.

Also Check: Rheumatoid Arthritis Leg Pain At Night

How Rheumatoid Arthritis Can Hurt Your Heart

Higher levels of inflammation in people with rheumatoid arthritis increase the risk of heart disease, especially heart attacks and strokes, Greer says.

These heart conditions can also be more fatal. In people with systemic inflammatory diseases like RA, heart attacks in those under 50 are twice as likely to be fatal as for people without an inflammatory condition, according to a study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology in March 2021.

To lower your risk, youll want to get your RA under control and also reduce heart risk factors, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. A healthy diet like the Mediterranean diet will lower your risk of heart disease.

Another way to both assist your heart and improve your RA: Dont smoke and if you do smoke, quit as soon as possible in addition, avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.

Finally, know that certain RA medications themselves have been linked to heart problems these side effects are rare, and are not a reason to skip drug treatment. The negative effects of not treating RA with medication are much, much worse than the side effects of RA drugs, cautions Greer.

How Arthritis Can Affect The Spine And How It Is Treated

What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Arthritis is a painful condition affecting millions of people. When it hits the spine, the results can be debilitating and may even require surgery.

But the prognosis for arthritis of the spine is dependent on the way arthritis has manifested itself. Treatment may range from physical therapy and targeted mobility exercises to surgical intervention. Lets take a look at how arthritis can affect the spine and how it is treated.

Also Check: Peanuts And Arthritis

Seronegative Ra Or Something Else

Occasionally, a diagnosis of seronegative RA will change. For example, if a chronic skin rash called psoriasis appears, a diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis may be considered. Similarly, if signs and symptoms appear in the spine, a diagnosis of spondyloarthritis may be considered. The treatments for these diseases are similar.

It can be helpful to recognize and track symptoms, even after a diagnosis has been made.

An Overview Of Rheumatoid Arthritis

This is due to inflammation of the synovial lining . This can cause the disease’s characteristic swelling, pain, limited range of motion, and decreased function, but also joint damage and deformity as the synovium begins to thicken and inflamed cells release enzymes that digest bone and cartilage.

RA typically has a symmetrical pattern of joint damage. For example, both of your knees are usually affected rather than just one. Signs and symptoms can differ slightly depending on the part of the body that’s affected.

Recommended Reading: Stiff Neck Rheumatoid 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.

Arthritis In Certain Parts Of The Body Can Make It More Difficult To Walk Heres How To Deal With These Changes In Your Gait And Remain Mobile

Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in women

Having arthritis in your hips, knees, ankles, or feet can making walking harder a side effect that can have consequences for your daily well-being and quality of life. I found myself limping to avoid pain, arthritis patient Lisa H. told us on Facebook. It got to the point where my daughter would imitate my walk, which made me realize I needed some help.

Managing the underlying disease, physical therapy to help correct your movements, and possibly using assistive devices or shoes can help you minimize changes to your gait and retain your independence and mobility.

Also Check: Are Eggs Bad For Psoriatic Arthritis

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

Gout And Calcium Crystal Diseases

Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis that can cause painful swelling in joints. It typically affects the big toe, but it can also affect other joints in the body.

Joints affected by gout can become red and hot. The skin may also look shiny and can peel.

Its caused by having too much urate, otherwise known as uric acid, in the body. We all have a certain amount of urate in our body.

However, being overweight or eating and drinking too much of certain types of food and alcoholic drinks can cause some people to have more urate in their bodies. The genes you inherit can make you more likely to develop gout.

If it reaches a high level, urate can form into crystals that remain in and around the joint. They can be there for a while without causing any problems and even without the person realising they are there.

A knock to a part of the body or having a fever can lead to the crystals falling into the soft part of the joint. This will cause pain and swelling.

There are drugs that can reduce the amount of urate in the body and prevent gout attacks. Examples are allopurinol and . If youre having a gout attack, youll also need short-term pain relief. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as well as paracetamol can be good drugs to try first.

Men can get gout from their mid-20s, and in women its more common after the menopause. Taking water tablets can increase the risk of gout.

There are also conditions that cause calcium crystals to form in and around joints.

Also Check: Best Treatment For Arthritis Pain In Hands

What Are The Treatments For Rheumatoid Arthritis

RA is usually treated with a combination of medications to relieve swelling and pain while regulating the immune system. Joint surgery to relieve pain and disability, including joint replacement, may also be considered when these nonsurgical methods have failed to provide lasting benefit.

With early detection and intervention, RA and other forms of inflammatory arthritis can be treated very effectively. The connects patients quickly and efficiently with a rheumatologist who can evaluate their joint pain and get each patient started on an appropriate course of treatment. HSS also offers specialized for people with RA.

Today, we are blessed with a deeper understanding of the pathogenesis and characteristics of RA and the availability of safe and effective medications that can alter the natural history of RA and improve function. We start with the premise that RA is eminently controllable, and the goal of our therapies is âno evidence of disease.â That means no signs of redness, warmth, swelling or tenderness and normal function. Since we would not accept uncontrolled illness in angina, chronic obstructive lung disease, hypertension or diabetes, we should similarly not accept it in RA. Luckily, today, we have the therapeutic tools to make this happen.

Donât Miss: Is Peanut Butter Bad For Arthritis

Key Points About Rheumatoid Arthritis

How Osteoarthritis Pain Affects Your Body
  • RA is a long-term that causes joint inflammation.
  • RA can also affect many nonjoint areas such as the lungs, heart, skin, nerves, muscles, blood vessels, and kidneys.
  • RA may cause deformities in the joints of the finger, making movement difficult.
  • The joints most often affected by RA are in the hands, wrists, feet, ankles, knees, shoulders, and elbows.
  • Symptoms may include joint pain, stiffness, and swelling decreased and painful movement bumps over small joints and fatigue or fever.

Read Also: Rheumatoid Arthritis Article

What Are The Different Types Of Arthritis

Arthritis is a broad term that describes more than 100 different joint conditions. The most common types of arthritis include:

  • Osteoarthritis, or wear and tear arthritis, which develops when joint cartilage breaks down from repeated stress. Its the most common form of arthritis.
  • Ankylosing spondylitis, or arthritis of the spine .
  • Juvenile arthritis , a disorder where the immune system attacks the tissue around joints. JA typically affects children 16 or younger.
  • Gout, a disease that causes hard crystals of uric acid to form in your joints.
  • Psoriatic arthritis, joint inflammation that develops in people with psoriasis .
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, a disease that causes the immune system to attack synovial membranes in your joints.

How To Avoid Complications Of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis can also affect the nerves in the body which is why a lot of patients experience numbness and sharp pain in affected areas. The condition is definitely alarming. It affects more parts of the body than you think. And does not just affect your joints as bones like most of the people say. It can also affect vital organs and affect your vision as well as your nerves. So, is vital to treat this condition as soon as possible to avoid complications of rheumatoid arthritis.

Also Check: Can Rheumatoid Arthritis Affect Your Back

What Triggers Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis mainly takes place because of joint damages, which accumulate with time. Joint damage may even take place because of other reasons, including ones previous injury, like ligament injuries, dislocated joints, and torn cartilage.

Certain factors may increase your risk related to osteoarthritis problems. These include the following-

Age Factor: Osteoarthritis has a close association with wear and tear of joints, while it becomes common as the people become old. According to the statistics, about one-third of adults exceeding 65 years of age may have symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Previous Injuries: Peoples with injured joints may likely to develop the problem of osteoarthritis in their joints.

Poor Posture: Standing or sitting improperly may cause strain in your joints, which increases your risk to suffer from osteoarthritis.

Obesity:Obesity puts an increased risk related to stress on your body. This increases the risk of osteoarthritis in your cartilage and joints. Overweight people are highly susceptible to osteoarthritis in the hips, knees, and spine.

Specific Occupations: Repetitive actions may put undue stress on the cartilage joints and occupations, which involve repetitive actions, may increase your OA risks. These are as follows-

  • Walking and lifting
  • Climbing stairs

People regularly participating in any of the joint-intensive sports may remain at an increased risk related to osteoarthritis.

What Makes Ra Get Worse

Rheumatoid arthritis swelling: Causes and treatment

Different factors affect the pace and progression of individual patients RA. Some things you cant control, like whether you have a family history of the disease. In addition, although women are more likely to get RA, when men get rheumatoid arthritis, their prognosis is generally worse, Dr. Bhatt says.

But there are factors you can control and change. We know smoking makes RA more aggressive, so smoking cessation is key, Dr. Lally says. Also, people with heavy manual occupations might stress the joints further and might have quicker progression, Dr. Bhatt says. If your workplace can make accommodations for your disease, that will help. Read more about how to make working with arthritis easier.

Exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can also help reduce stress on the joints, Dr. Bhatt says. But talk to your doctor before starting a workout regimen. A physical therapist can advise patients on the right type of exercise, he says. If patients do exercises wrong it could stress the joints even further. In addition, getting enough sleep, starting an anti-inflammatory diet, eating less red meat, and possibly using herbal remedies like turmeric may help control RA, Dr. Bhatt says. Here are more healthy habits to adopt if you have RA.

Also Check: Side Effects Of Arthritis Medications

Popular Articles
Related news