Friday, December 9, 2022

How Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Feel

When Is Surgery Needed For Rheumatoid Arthritis

What Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Feel Like?

Some people with rheumatoid arthritis need several operations over time. Examples include removal of damaged synovium , tendon repairs, and replacement of badly damaged joints, especially the knees or hips. Surgical fusion of damaged rheumatoid wrists can alleviate pain and improve function. Sometimes rheumatoid nodules in the skin that are irritating are removed surgically.

Some people with rheumatoid arthritis have involvement of the vertebrae of the neck . This has the potential for compressing the spinal cord and causing serious consequences in the nervous system. This is important to identify prior to anesthesia intubation procedures for surgery. These people with serious spinal involvement occasionally need to undergo surgical fusion of the spine.

You Notice Nodules Near Your Joints

These are firm lumps that grow under the skin near the affected joints. They often appear at the back of the elbows, and sometimes people get them in the eyes.

They’re more common in people who have advanced rheumatoid arthritis, but occasionally show up earlier, says Dr. Mandl.

The nodules can at times mimic gout, another form of arthritis.

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How I Treat My Malaise

Although each of my malaise triggers requires different solutions, I do have a few go-to ways that I find generally help me feel better.

Sparkling water: I always have some cold carbonated water on hand. For me, this stuff can be a lifesaver when dealing with malaise. The carbonation works like magic when nausea hits and I prefer sparkling water vs ginger ale as there is far less sugar involved! Plus its a tasty way to stay hydrated.

Herbal teas: I have quite the collection of herbal teas for different ailments. When I feel nauseous or sluggish, I turn to tea with ginger, chamomile, lemon, fennel, peppermint, or licorice. If Im feeling lethargic, I steep some matcha or green tea.

Rest: Sometimes malaise is a sign I am doing too much and need to take a moment to rest. But I need to be careful to not rest too much, which can backfire and make the malaise worse. When I rest, I set a timer for 20-40 minutes.

Crackers or toast: This is the dynamic duo on the days I just cant stomach food but need to eat.

Smoothies: This is another food I can tolerate when Im feeling queasy. I also find it easier to swallow my medication when I take it with a smoothie.

Fruit and nuts: They are an easy and tolerable source of nutrients when malaise hits.

Anti-nausea medicine: I always keep Tums on hand, as well as a big bag of mints.

Fresh air: This is one of the cheapest and most efficient ways to feel a little better I find some sunshine helps me feel more energized.

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How Ra Affects Feet

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition. When you have RA, your immune system tries to destroy the lining of your joints, called synovium. It also attacks the fluid in your joints, called synovial fluid. It does this because it mistakes these parts of your body for disease-causing invaders.

RA causes damage and inflammation that makes your joints swell and feel warm. The small joints, like those in the feet, are the most common targets of these attacks.

Eventually, long-term inflammation thickens the synovium. This causes cartilage and bone to wear away. In the feet and toes, the joints may become deformed. This leads to poor range of motion and considerable pain. Walking, standing, and even wearing shoes can become difficult.

Proper treatment may help reduce the damage and inflammation to your foot joints. It may also prevent or delay deformities and other problems.

Who Gets Arthritis In Their Hands

What Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Feel Like: Describing How ...

You are more likely to get arthritis in your hands if:

  • Youre older. Osteoarthritis is commonly seen after age 50. Rheumatoid arthritis typically first appears between the age of 35 and 50.
  • Youre a woman.
  • Youre white.
  • Youre overweight.
  • Youve had previous injuries to your hand. If youve dislocated or broken any joints in your hands or fingers, you are more likely to develop arthritis.
  • You’ve inherited genes that cause the development of arthritis.

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Inflamed Synovium In Rheumatoid Arthritis

In rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease, the body attacks its own joints. White blood cells, which are agents of the immune system, travel to the synovium and cause an inflammatory process to occur, referred to as active synovitis. The inflamed synovium causes warmth, redness, swelling, and pain in and around the affected joint.

Specifically, during the inflammatory process, the synovium thickens and causes the joint to swell. As rheumatoid arthritis progresses, abnormal synovial cells invade and erode cartilage and bone within the joint. Surrounding muscles, ligaments, and tendons weaken.

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.

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Making Sense Of Symptoms

Doctors believe there are specific symptoms most people with RA experience and research shows for most people develop symptoms gradually.

Pain

In my early 20s, I started experiencing on-and-off joint pain and extreme fatigue that would stick around for a short period and dissipate. This made it difficult for my doctor to diagnose me with RA and any other condition.

Early on, most people with RA experience joint pain and stiffness and in some, there is also a limited range of motion in those affected joints. But most people suspect an injury rather than a chronic, life-changing disease.

With injuries, the body eventually heals, and life goes back to normal. Imagine having to deal with pain, stiffness, and range of motion problems almost daily as is the case with RA.

Comparing Flares to the Flu

RA brings painful flare-ups. These are periods where the disease flares-up and causes pain and a whole host of symptoms.

RA can be described similarly to having a bad flu where your body is aching from head to toe, and your muscles are weak. You might experience a fever, nausea and vomiting and a loss of appetite.

That awful sickness, exhaustion, and inability to get out of bed are what RA flares can feel like. The difference, however, is that the flu gets better with time and you eventually go on with your life.

With RA, recovery isnt possible, and the fever, exhaustion, and aches always return.

Physical Exhaustion

You Never Know What is Next

When To Seek Treatment

Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment: Two Years of Remicade. Why don’t I feel better?

The following are general guidelines of when to seek treatment for your RA progression:

When you first suspect symptoms Regularly during the first few years of diagnosis If you suspect you are experiencing progressive rheumatoid arthritis If you feel your condition is worsening in any way or new symptoms appear

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What Kind Of Treatment Could Help Against Fatigue

Sometimes is still a major problem despite adjusting your daily schedule, doing physical exercise and getting support from other people. Then professional help may be an option, for instance in the form of psychological treatment or occupational therapy. Some specialized programs have been developed specifically for people who have fatigue as a result of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. They’re designed to do things like help you plan activities and make sure you don’t use up all of your energy at once.

Cognitive behavioral therapy strategies can also be learned to help cope with . Some involve recognizing and then changing certain thoughts, beliefs and behaviors that make it more difficult to live with the disease.

Studies on non-drug treatments show that approaches used in occupational therapy and psychotherapy can relieve exhaustion.

But Wait Ra Gets More Complicated: Symptoms And Causes

Rheumatoid arthritis can be complex. The specific reasons why some people develop it and others dont remain unknown. However, the medical community does know what may increase the risk and likelihood of developing the disease, such as having more levels of whats called rheumatoid factor in your blood .

In addition, while RA is considered a chronic condition meaning it has no cure and will never fully go away how severe the symptoms get differ from person to person, and flares may wax and wane. For example, when the disease is more active , symptoms become worse. When symptoms disappear, either on their own or with treatment, patients go into remission.3

Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Since RA is an autoimmune disorder that attacks ones own body tissues, researchers are focusing on why these mistakes occur.5

One factor that may play a role in the development of RA is that many people with the condition have higher levels of an antibody in their immune system: enter rheumatoid factor or RF for short. Low levels of this antibody can be present in healthy individuals or in people with other inflammatory conditions, but individuals with RA have higher levels of RF, as well as another antibody, the anti-CCP antibody. Both antibodies are signs of hyperactive immunity doctors use them to help confirm the diagnosis of RA.

Despite the unknowns about the causes of RA, there are some risk factors for developing this condition:6-10

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What Can I Do Right Now

  • Tame an RA Flare. Try hot and cold packs to decrease pain sensation ask for help with daily tasks that are too difficult to do during a flare balance rest and activity try deep breathing relaxation exercises.20
  • Check in on your mental health. Seek out resources to help with emotional difficulties, such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness , Anxiety and Depression Association of America, or Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.
  • Find an experienced rheumatologist. The ACR allows you to search by zip code. You can also contact the ACR the US association of rheumatologists.
  • Prep for your next doc visit. Write down questions to ask your doctor use a diary to track your symptoms document what activities make you feel worse or better, and which activities cause pain.
  • Be an Advocate. Help others with RA by participating in a number of activities, including Tell Your Story, volunteering, or joining advocacy ventures.
  • Why Your Mental Health Matters With Ra

    What Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Feel Like?

    When pain reduces your ability to get around or do the things you love, its normal for emotions to get the best of you. Depression is not uncommon in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Studies show a significantly increased risk of depression in people with RA, particularly in women and people older than 30 years of age.16,17

    Research also shows that people with RA and depression may experience a lower quality of life and higher disease activity than those without depression. Moreover, some people with chronic conditions, including RA, may be an increased risk for having suicidal thoughts.18

    The pain management community is just beginning to focus on the impact of chronic life on mental health. So its important to be proactive and tell your doctor if and when youre feeling depressed or anxious. Treatments from medication to talk therapy can help.

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    Are Glucosamine And Chondroitin Supplements Helpful For Treating Osteoarthritis Of The Hand

    Supplements are not reviewed or approved by the Food and Drug Administration . They are not required to undergo the same rigorous clinical trial methods that medications must undergo in the U.S. Some clinical trials show benefits with pain relief however, there is no proof that these supplements slow the progression of osteoarthritis. If you plan to try these, always check with your healthcare provider before using supplements. These products may interfere with medications you currently take.

    A note from Cleveland Clinic

    Dull or burning joint pain, morning stiffness, swollen joints in your hand are all symptoms of arthritis. Many types of arthritis could affect your hands. Many treatment options are available depending on your exact arthritis type. Medications can reduce joint pain and swelling. Researchers are still working on ways to slow the progression of osteoarthritis. See your healthcare provider if you think you have arthritis in your hands. They will perform a complete exam and offer you a complete treatment plan, which includes hand exercises, use of hot and cold packs, other lifestyle tips and traditional treatments including medications, braces/splints, steroid injections and surgery.

    Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/06/2021.

    References

    Things People With Rheumatoid Arthritis Want You To Know

    Rheumatoid arthritis is a progressive and disabling autoimmune inflammatory disease that affects 35-70 million people worldwide.1,2 Theres more to RA than just developing stiff joints as you get older read on to find out how the disease really affects those living with it and what they would like you to know.

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    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.

    Causes

    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.

    Symptoms

    What Are Tips For Managing And Living With Rheumatoid Arthritis

    What a rheumatoid arthritis flair feels like

    The following tips are helpful in managing and living with RA:

    • Live a healthy lifestyle: Eat healthy foods. Avoid sugar and junk food. Quit smoking, or don’t start. Don’t drink alcohol in excess. These common-sense measures have an enormous impact on general health and help the body function at its best.
    • Exercise: Discuss the right kind of exercise for you with your doctor, if necessary.
    • Rest when needed, and get a good night’s sleep. The immune system functions better with adequate sleep. Pain and mood improve with adequate rest.
    • Follow your doctor’s instructions about medications to maximize effectiveness and minimize side effects.
    • Communicate with your doctor about your questions and concerns. They have experience with many issues that are related to rheumatoid arthritis.

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    What Is The Relation Between Cytokines And Ra

    In autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, there is an increased production of certain inflammatory proteins called cytokines. They include tumor necrosis factor alpha and interleukins IL-1, IL-6, IL-17, IL-12, and IL-18 .9 Many commonly used biologic treatments for RA target these cytokines. For example, TNFa inhibitor drugs include Enbrel, Humira, Remicade, Cimzia, and Simponi. Actemra targets IL-6 and Kineret targets IL-1. Other RA treatments target associated parts of biochemical pathways that involve immune system parts and these cytokines. The idea is that if overproduction of these cytokines can be blocked, then symptoms of RA such as joint destruction can be controlled. In addition, these treatments may assist with reducing fatigue experienced by RA patients 10. All of this makes sense in light of the sickness behavior theories discussed above. My rheumatologist once told me that the first sign a biological treatment was working was the patient experienced more energy. The opposite may also be true if prolonged and increased levels of sickness symptoms are present, then treatments may not be working.

    Is There A Cure For Rheumatoid Arthritis

    There is no known cure for rheumatoid arthritis. However, with early, aggressive treatment with DMARDs, many patients are able to achieve remission, meaning the symptoms of RA are quiet. Sometimes, the dose of medications may be reduced when remission is achieved. It is unusual for rheumatoid arthritis to remain in remission if medications are stopped, and when this does occur , symptoms and signs usually come back over time. For this reason, it is not advisable to stop rheumatoid arthritis medications unless advised to do so by a rheumatologist.

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