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How Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Affect The Body

What Are Common Arthritis Treatments

Rheumatoid arthritis – causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, pathology

There are many things that help reduce pain, relieve stiffness and keep you moving. Your care may involve more than one kind of treatment. Your doctor may recommend medications but there are many things you can do on your own to help manage pain and fatigue and move easier.

Finding the right treatment takes time. It can involve trial and error until you and your healthcare team or therapist find what works best. Be sure to let your doctor know if a treatment is not working. Your treatment may also change as your arthritis changes.

Treatments for arthritis can be divided into several categories: medication, exercise, heat/cold, pacing, joint protection, surgery and self-help skills. You can do things in each of these areas to help yourself feel better and move easier.

What Are The Risk Factors For Arthritis

Some factors make you more likely to develop arthritis, including:

  • Age: The risk of arthritis increases as you get older.
  • Lifestyle: Smoking or a lack of exercise can increase your risk of arthritis.
  • Sex: Most types of arthritis are more common in women.
  • Weight: Obesity puts extra strain on your joints, which can lead to arthritis.

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Rheumatoid Arthritis Inflammation And Your Body’s Systems

The central part of the disease is inflammation, says rheumatologist Cong-Qiu Chu, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor of medicine and director of the Early Arthritis Clinic at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, OR. While you may feel the effects of that inflammation most clearly in your joints, its impact goes much further. With RA, inflammation spreads throughout your body, putting your overall health at risk.

Before we take a look at the different systems of the body affected by RA, know this: For most people with rheumatoid arthritis, treatment today not only manages your joint pain, it also greatly reduces the risk of other damage to your body. When you treat the inflammation in the joints, you also suppress systemic inflammation in the rest of your body, says Dr. Chu.

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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

Protect Yourself From Ra Complications

Rheumatoid Arthritis

You may not think to mention problems like depression, chest pain, or dry eyes to the doctor who treats your rheumatoid arthritis, but you should. All these problems can be related to the disease.

You might need different doctors and different treatments to control your RA and to take care of any new problems that come up. Always discuss new symptoms with your doctor.

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Rheumatoid Arthritis And The Immune System

The driving force behind the development of rheumatoid arthritis is a malfunctioning immune system. Normally, the job of your immune system is to protect you against disease-causing invaders, such as harmful bacteria and viruses. It also helps your body heal after an injury. When it senses something wrong, it sends out inflammatory cells to fight off the threat or to begin the repair process.

In the short-term, this inflammation benefits your body. But if that inflammation becomes chronicor if it is triggered by things that are not true threats to your bodyit can cause scarring and damage in the areas where it occurs. For unknown reasons, rheumatoid arthritis causes your immune system to attack healthy cells in your joints. The inflammation spreads from there to the rest of your body.

How Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Affect The Heart

Another part of the body which is affected is the heart. The recent findings have stated that the heart is more likely to fail in patients who suffer from rheumatism. This is because this condition affects the blood vessels slowly. When the veins and arteries become affected, this increases the risk of heart attack.

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How Rheumatoid Arthritis Affects More Than Joints

Learn more about how the inflammation associated with RA can impact organs and systems beyond the joints.

Arthritis can cause painful, swollen knees or fingers that are impossible to ignore. But other parts of the body, including the skin, eyes and lungs can also be affected. Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic disease, meaning it can affect many parts of the body.

In addition, the drugs used to treat RA can also cause health problems. Many of these problems such as bone thinning or changes in kidney function cause no immediate symptoms so your doctor may monitor you through lab tests or checkups. For other problems such as skin rashes or dry mouth its important to report any symptoms to your doctor, who can determine the cause, and adjust your treatments accordingly.

Its important to be aware of the affected areas of the body and side effects you may experience. This way, early aggressive treatment can help you avoid RA-related health issues.

Risk Factors For Rheumatoid Arthritis

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis? | Johns Hopkins Rheumatology

There are certain factors that increase the chance of a person developing RA. These are described below.

  • Obesity: People who are significantly overweight have a higher risk of RA than those of normal weight.
  • Smoking: Smokers are more predisposed to getting RA and having children with RA. Children exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to develop RA in adulthood.
  • Genes: Individuals with certain genomes are more apt to have RA. The HLA class II genotypes seem to make people more prone to RA.
  • Age and sex: Older people and females are most likely to develop RA. The disease is in fact three times more common in females than males.
  • Females and births: Women who have never given birth also seem to be more prone to RA than other people.
  • Nutrition: A diet high in salt, sugar, and meat may increase RA risk.

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Rheumatoid Arthritis And Diabetes

Diabetes occurs when the body is unable to produce hormone insulin or use it sufficiently . Insulin converts the sugars we get from food into energy. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the bodys immune system attacks the cells of the pancreas that make insulin. Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder that affects the way the body utilizes insulin.

Having rheumatoid arthritis raises your risk for diabetes and having diabetes increases your risk of developing arthritis, but theres a lot we still dont know about the connection between diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

One theory suggests that RA inflammation may play a role in the development of diabetes. Insulin resistance tends to be elevated in RA, and levels of inflammatory markers tend to be high both in people with RA and people with diabetes. Another theory is that people with RA and other forms of arthritis tend to be more sedentary, and a sedentary lifestyle leads to obesity, a known risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

Medications used for arthritis could also play a role, as it is well known that steroids can raise blood sugar levels. However, other RA drugs may lower diabetes risk: the drug hydroxychloroquine is associated with a lower risk of diabetes among people with RA, though its unclear why this is so. Other RA drugs known as TNF blockers and methotrexate have been shown to improve insulin resistance and lower diabetes risk, but more research is needed.

Biologia La Vida En La Tierra

Theres no single test that determines whether you have RA. Your doctor may run several tests to help confirm a RA diagnosis. These tests include:

  • checking your blood for specific antibodies such as rheumatoid factor or anti-CCP antibody
  • taking samples of synovial fluid to look for inflammation or infection
  • looking for inflammation
  • ordering imaging tests to look at your joints and bones or evidence of inflammation or joint damage

Sometimes, X-rays are ineffective in diagnosing the disease. An MRI or ultrasound can show abnormalities in your joints before X-ray changes appear.

Dont be afraid to get a second opinion if youre still experiencing discomfort from your condition. A doctor can prescribe new medications if the ones youre taking arent working.

RA usually appears in people between the ages of 25 and 50. If you arent in this age range, you should still see a doctor if you think youre experiencing symptoms of RA. In the case of RA, the earlier you receive your treatment, the better your outcome is.

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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.

Ra And The Integumentary System

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Never heard of the integumentary system? This refers to your skin, hair, and nails, which together comprise one of the largest systems of organs in your body. Its role is primarily to create a barrier between your internal organs and the rest of the world. Though it is not commonly discussed in relation to rheumatoid arthritis, your integumentary system can be affected by the disease.

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Rheumatoid Arthritis And Lung Problems

People with rheumatoid arthritis are at risk for inflammation and scarring of the lung tissues. Its not fully understood why it happens, but its believed to be a combination of environmental exposure, like tobacco smoke, active rheumatoid arthritis, and accelerated aging process, says Dr. England. Lung problems that occur in people with rheumatoid arthritis include:

Rheumatoid arthritis-associated interstitial lung disease is a group of lung disorders marked by inflammation and scarring of the lung tissue, which is caused by the immune system attacking the lungs. As scarring becomes more severe it can affect breathing and lead to breathlessness and dry cough.

Rheumatoid nodules can occur in the lungs of patients with RA. Read more about rheumatoid nodules and how to manage them.

Pulmonary fibrosis is permanent scarring of the lungs, often linked with RA-ILD. As healthy air sacs are replaced by scar tissue, breathing becomes difficult. Oxygen therapy may make breathing easier, but it cannot undo the damage caused by the scarring.

Pleurisy is inflammation of the lining of the lungs, called the pleura. It occurs in more than half of all people with RA and can make breathing painful.

Smoking increases the risk of lung problems, so work with your doctor to devise a smoking cessation plan, says Dr. England. Rheumatoid arthritis in a smoker is harder to control than rheumatoid arthritis in a nonsmoker, says Dr. Mandelin.

Stage : Antibodies Develop And Swelling Worsens

In many cases, RA progresses to the second stage without being diagnosed. In the second stage the body makes the antibodies and the joints start swelling up, Dr. Bhatt says. It can affect other organ systems and cause inflammation there: the lungs, the eyes, a skin rash, and it can even affect the heart. Lumps on the elbows called rheumatoid nodules may also develop.

When it comes to imaging results, the second stage is more confirmative for the diagnosis, Dr. Bhatt says. It has kind of a moth-eaten, chipped off appearance on the X-rays. Ultrasound can also be done, and the most sensitive is an MRI, which would pick up if there are any problems even if the X-ray is normal.

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Why Does The Heat Affect Arthritis

Our joints have sensory nerves that respond to changes in temperature. When the temperature and humidity levels go up, the joints fluid levels can increase and result in increased inflammation, pain, and discomfort. You may also experience stiffness or laxity in your muscles, ligaments, and tendons, making it difficult to move around.

How Is Rheumatoid Arthritis Managed

Immunology of the rheumatoid joint

You can manage rheumatoid arthritis by taking medicines as prescribed to treat pain and joint inflammation. You can also help reduce symptoms by exercising and maintaining a healthy weight. Aim to do 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week. This can be at one time or broken up into shorter sessions.

You may also need to make changes at home to help you manage daily tasks like cleaning or gardening. An occupational therapist can help you make adjustments if pain or joint stiffness makes certain tasks hard to complete. They can recommend tools to reduce strain on your joints, such as long-handled dustpans so you dont need to bend over, or book holders to reduce the strain on your hands and wrists.

You might find that rheumatoid arthritis makes you frustrated and upset. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause poor sleep, which can also make you feel down. Discus your feelings with friends and family and explain to them what they can do to support you. This may help you feel better and reassured that help is available, if needed. If you are struggling with a low mood or not managing to sleep, your doctor will be able to support you and work with you to build a plan to help.

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Effects On Your Daily Life

  • See a doctor or other relevant healthcare professional if youre unable to do everyday tasks due to joint or muscle pain.
  • If youve lifted something heavy and hurt your back, for example, take some painkillers, apply some heat and try to stay active. If the pain doesnt ease after a couple of weeks or so, see a doctor.

Its important to see a doctor if you get any new symptoms or if you have any trouble with drugs youre taking.

If you have an appointment with a doctor, to help make sure you get the most out of it, you could take a list of questions with you and tick them off as they are discussed.

You could also keep a symptoms diary with details of how youre feeling in between appointments. Some people find that taking a friend or relative with them to an appointment can provide support and ensure that all important points are discussed.

What Are The Complications Of Ra

Rheumatoid arthritis has many physical and social consequences and can lower quality of life. It can cause pain, disability, and premature death.

  • Premature heart disease. People with RA are also at a higher risk for developing other chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. To prevent people with RA from developing heart disease, treatment of RA also focuses on reducing heart disease risk factors. For example, doctors will advise patients with RA to stop smoking and lose weight.
  • Obesity. People with RA who are obese have an increased risk of developing heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Being obese also increases risk of developing chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Finally, people with RA who are obese experience fewer benefits from their medical treatment compared with those with RA who are not obese.
  • Employment. RA can make work difficult. Adults with RA are less likely to be employed than those who do not have RA. As the disease gets worse, many people with RA find they cannot do as much as they used to. Work loss among people with RA is highest among people whose jobs are physically demanding. Work loss is lower among those in jobs with few physical demands, or in jobs where they have influence over the job pace and activities.

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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

Biologics tend to work rapidly within two to six weeks. Your provider may prescribe them alone or in combination with a DMARD like methotrexate.

How To Avoid Complications Of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Home Remedies for 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.

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