How Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Affect Your Body
Since it is a progressive disease, it can end up affecting more than just your joints. The early signs of the disease start with the inflammation of smaller joints which are around your hands and your feet. Early morning stiffness, swelling, and pain are common symptoms because you havent been able to use your hands and feet while you were resting. These symptoms will come and go with time but, ideally, you get them checked before they worsen. The waiting period for this stage is usually between 4 to 6 weeks.
Over time, as rheumatoid arthritis progresses, it can affect the way your blood circulates around your body, leading to inflammation around the heart, blocked arteries, and more. You may also experience lumps around your body in your skin, eyes, and mouth, and can lead to Sjogrens syndrome, which is another autoimmune disease-causing extreme dryness and sensitivity in your eyes and throat. It can also cause inflammation in your lungs and lead to blocked airways and increase the blood pressure in your lungs.
Before you work yourself into a panic, keep in mind that these effects dont all happen to everybody. They depend on the level of severity, your genetic makeup, your hormones, and a whole number of other environmental factors.
I Got My Ra Joint Symptoms Under Control
I tried my first biologic in the early days of 2005 and knew very quickly that it was working. This had very little to do with visible reduction in swelling and everything to do with an increase in energy and the fog slowly lifting from my brain. I could think again and started feeling ready to deal with the mountains of papers I had ignored for months. The thought of having a conversation no longer made me want to curl up and whimper. Finding an effective treatment for my RA was an essential factor in starting to build back more energy.
Why Do Other People’s Perceptions Matter
Many people think of arthritis as an old person’s disease or something that causes minor aches and pains. At the other extreme are those people who believe that nothing can be done for arthritis and that those who get it can expect to end up in a wheelchair. You may be accused of making too much of your arthritis or viewed with pity by people who think you’re on the verge of becoming totally disabled. You may feel put down if you’re told what you can’t do by an uninformed public or a well-meaning family member who just wants to protect you.
The negative perceptions of others may be among the most difficult challenges you have to face. When family and friends misunderstand you they may not be able to provide the support you need.
Misconceptions held by employers and the public can make it more difficult for you to work or get the services you need.
But you don’t have to accept other people’s ideas about you or your illness. Learn as much as you can about arthritis so you can have a realistic attitude about your condition. Then deal with people’s misinformed notions in a positive fashion. At times you may want to ignore comments from misguided friends. At other times you will want to explain your condition as soon as you become aware that someone has misconceptions. In a matter-of-fact way talk about arthritis and how it affects you. By educating others you can help promote a better understanding of arthritis.
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Rest But Don’t Stop Moving
Everyone’s body needs a chance to rest, and if you live with arthritis, this is especially true for your joints. However, too much unwinding can actually cause your joints to stiffen, making a flare worse or more likely to occur in the first place. Instead of staying in bed all day with an arthritis flare, throw in a few periods of low-impact activity to keep your joints in full range of motion, as the Arthritis Foundation suggested. Just remember to understand your personal threshold don’t overwork your body during a flare.
Theme : Disease Etiology
Over half of the patients believed that their arthritis had been instigated by contact with water. For example, when asked why she had arthritis, one patient responded: “Rainwater, from the sky. And the streets were full of water. I was young and I was in the water .” Other patients believed their arthritis originated from performing chores involving water. While men typically mentioned carrying water as part of their agricultural work, women spoke of household chores such as cleaning and washing: “Being with water a lot … I was a fanatic about that … cleaning and washing with a lot of water. Yes, I liked to always wash the floors, wash things, the house. I remember that my mother had said ‘you’re going to catch arthritis, that’s harmful’ . ” Several individuals believed that using detergents during chores such as dishwashing and laundry contributed to their subsequent development of arthritis. Other subjects attributed arthritis to the water’s cold temperature: “There are many people who suffer from the cold of the water .”
Half of the patients believed that God was responsible for their illness: “I think that God gave me the illness .” However, none of the patients believed that arthritis was a form of punishment from God. Rather, the patients felt that their arthritis was a test of their strength. According to one patient, “This problem is a test. A test. It’s a test to see if I can continue fighting or not .”
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Choose Your Shoes Wisely
The footwear you choose can either aid arthritis management or undermine your effort. When trying to find useful coping strategies for arthritis joint pain, we rarely take into consideration shoes and its time to change that.
On the other hand, many arthritis sufferers believe the damage is already done so it doesnt really matter what shoes they wear. Big mistake! Wrong shoes can aggravate pain while proper footwear can help prevent it.
Interestingly, wrong shoes can exacerbate arthritis joint pain in hips and knees, not just in ankles and feet. Below, you can see the rundown of different types of shoes and their impact on arthritis:
- High Heels Bad choice, they contribute to foot pain and arthritis, increase the risk of joint degeneration, increase frequency of low back pain
- Low Heels Produce same problems as high heels just to a lesser degree
- Flip-Flops Create significantly less knee stress than sneakers and clogs both of which are known as stability shoes
- Sandals The strappier, the better because straps allow you to adjust the shoe for a secure, custom fit
- Athletic Shoes Categorized to stability sneakers and neutral sneakers. Stability sneakers have a cushioned, dense midsole that helps control motion while the neutral athletic shoes offer good shock absorption
- Clogs Increase knee stress
- Boots Flat ones stabilize ankle and alleviate ankle-related issues
- Flats Look for three things in this type of footwear: cushioning, shock absorption, and arch support
Yeah But What Works For You
Yeah, but what works for you? I hear you asking somehow through the internet. Well, what works for me is a combination of a few things. First, theres pain meds, then sometimes I also use pain meds, and even on occasion I mix in some pain meds when it gets really bad. One time, I decided to be adventurous and I tried some pain meds!
Sorry, but there is only one thing that really works well enough for me to be considered a remedy pain meds. How do I know this? Well, because in the thirty-some-odd years Ive dealt with RA, Ive tried everything out there. No, really, I mean everything. Dont believe me? Well lets go through the list, shall we?
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Counseling And Other Support
Health care team
Any major disturbance in your life–such as illness or chronic pain–may make you feel anxious, depressed, angry or even hopeless.
This is your first place to turn for help. The team includes your doctor and a nurse. It may also include an occupational therapist or a physical therapist, a social worker, counselor, psychologist and a pharmacist.
Talk to the members of the team about ways to cope with pain. They may be able to help you find services in your area. Don’t be afraid to suggest to your doctor a pain management idea of your own or one from this program. You know yourself and your pain better than anyone.
Many people become depressed when they have severe pain. Some people feel so bad they cannot sleep or eat. In these cases, therapy or counseling may help.
Some people are afraid to admit they need help. They believe that others will think they are crazy if they talk to a professional about their problems. But it’s smart to get help when you need it. If you have the symptoms of depression–poor sleep, changes in appetite, crying, sad thoughts–talk with your doctor.
Some psychologists or counselors are specially trained to work with the emotional side of chronic health problems like arthritis. These people can also teach you how to manage stress. Pain is stressful. If you have increased stress, you may feel more pain. So learning to manage stress can also help you manage your pain.
Track Your Symptoms And Treatment
Tracking your symptoms of arthritis in a diary, journal, or app will allow you to contact your healthcare provider swiftly when there is a change. You can also note the questions that you want to ask your healthcare provider. Worsening symptoms may indicate that a treatment change should be considered. Early treatment offers the best chance for slowing disease progression.
If you are on multiple medications, set up pill minders or other organizers to ensure you are taking your medications at the right time. If you take any supplements or herbal products, track those as well and be sure you have discussed them with your healthcare provider.
Compliance with your treatment plan is critical to managing your condition. Be sure to track when refills are needed and upcoming appointments with your healthcare provider.
Work to establish the best relationship with your healthcare provider. This is very important when you have a chronic disease. You will need open and honest communication with your healthcare provderto get the best guidance and advice.
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Managing The Pain Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Understanding the causes of pain in RA can go a long way to helping you to find the best ways to manage your pain.
Pain is an extremely personal experience. While this review will try to explain some of the simple mechanisms of pain and the current treatments for pain in rheumatoid arthritis patients, such an overview represents a view based on an understanding of the evidence-based literature on current RA therapies and an individual rheumatologists experience it cannot fully explain every individual patients pain problems. All pain that is present for a reasonable length of time, no matter what the underlying cause, can be associated with poor sleep patterns and depressed mood. The stress associated with RA-related job loss or relationship problems all impact on how we cope with pain. Pain involves not only the nerves at the site of pain but the nerve pathways leading to the brain and special pain pathways within the brain itself. Very simply, pain is a complex phenomenon.
What If I Am Feeling Depressed
The most important thing to do is to reach out for help as soon as you feel the disease is affecting your emotional health. If you feel depressed or that arthritis is too much to handle, talk to a mental health professional. They can design a treatment plan to help with your specific troubles. You might be able to take medications for a little while to ease depression and lift your mood.
Everyone deserves to live the best life they can and feel in control of their health. Make sure you take care of your mental health while you manage the symptoms of arthritis.
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Difficulties Of The Relative
A good knowledge of the disease is an important need expressed by relatives. As in the Matheson et al study, partners wanted a joint approach to treatment involving and recognizing the partner and focusing on the couple rather than just the patient. One relative explained that he was responsible for searching the Internet.
Difficulties of relatives were seldom raised by dyads. However, difficulties in providing help were mentioned: first, because relatives felt helpless when they were unable to support the patient and second, because finding the right way to help and the right balance to provide help or not is not always easy. For example, spousal support can increase depressive symptoms in patients expressing a high importance of completing activities independently.
Relatives also can be frustrated with not being solicited. To assume a role of support is also part of the relative’s identity and responsibility, and this needs to be valued and recognized inside the dyad. Taking care of others can also have emotional, physical and social benefits, leading to increased happiness and increased sense of social connectedness.
How To Take Care Of Yourself
The steps to self-care when you have rheumatoid arthritis are pretty simple and straightforward – you have to maintain an active lifestyle, avoid putting too much strain on your joints and take your supplements. Also keep a healthy diet – you know, practice general upkeep and maintenance habits for your body.
Here are some tips to help you manage the disease a little bit better to reduce the pain and inflammation.
- Maintain your relationship with your doctors. Do not miss your regular appointments and stay in touch with them in case you feel like your symptoms are worsening.
- Keep taking the medicines that are prescribed as per their dosage. Avoid skipping doses.
- Your diet should be rich in calcium and vitamin D to improve the bone health of your body. Take whatever supplements are necessary and enrich your diet with calcium-rich foods to increase the calcium levels in your body. Vitamin D is crucial for this step because it helps the minerals get absorbed in your body.
- Keep getting your bone density checked regularly to monitor your bone health.
- Avoid smoking because it has a negative impact on your bone health.
- Exercise! There are many forms of exercise that you can do that keep your bones and the muscles around your bones strong to prevent further damage. Lack of exercise can increase the stiffness in and around your joints and further aggravate your condition and discomfort.
One of which is you guessed it right cleaning!
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Hot And Cold Treatments
Using either heat or cold treatments can reduce the stiffness and pain of arthritis.
Cold packs numb the sore area. They are especially good for severe joint pain and swelling caused by a flare . Heat treatments relax your muscles. You can use dry heat methods such as a heating pad or heat lamp or moist heat methods, such as a bath or hydrocollator pack.
The Covid Pandemic Impact On Fatigue
Of course, fatigue is not just related to RA. In the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ive discovered just how much energy it takes to manage my mental health in the face of constant changes, daily doses of terrifying news, and being even more isolated than usual from the people I love.
Being high-risk for COVID-19 due to immunosuppressant RA medications in a global health crisis is fanning the flames of my pre-existing medical PTSD. It is overwhelming and exhausting and has sapped my energy even further. Other life events also sap your energy stressful times at work, family conflicts, moves, exams, financial troubles, and more. Adding all of this to your RA-related fatigue can make it feel as if fighting back and keep moving forward is futile.
But although you may never quite get back to pre-RA energy levels, there are steps you can take to protect and even start to rebuild your energy. Just as with treating RA inflammation and pain, addressing fatigue takes a toolbox approach, using multiple strategies working together to get you where you want to be. The following are some of the tools Ive found useful.
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Problems People With Arthritis Face
Arthritis comes in several different forms, like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and different people will experience different symptoms to varying degrees. A few traits of arthritis include:
- Joint stiffness
- Reduced strength in muscles
Basic, daily tasks may become difficult for your loved ones to accomplish, especially if they require the use of their arms and legs. It is important to have a keen understanding of how the effect of arthritis hinders their daily functional mobility if you want to help your loved ones cope with their condition. Here are some tips on how you or your loved ones can cope with arthritis as we age.
Considering Taking Opioids For Your Pain
This animated video below, from NPS MedicineWise and the Faculty of Pain Medicine of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists , provides information to people who may be considering taking opioids for chronic non-cancer pain.
CONTACT YOUR LOCAL ARTHRITIS OFFICE FOR MORE INFORMATION AND SUPPORT SERVICES.
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Other Pain Management Techniques
If a joint is very swollen and painful, your doctor or therapist may suggest you use a splint to rest the joint . This helps reduce swelling and pain. Your doctor may recommend that you wear the splint during certain activities all day or only at night. This depends on how severe the swelling or pain is.
Getting a good night’s sleep restores your energy so you can better cope with the pain. It also rests your joints to reduce the pain and swelling. Only you know how much sleep your body needs, so get into the habit of listening to your body. If you feel tired and ache after lunch every day, for example, take a brief nap. This can help restore your energy and spirits.
If you have trouble sleeping at night, try relaxing quietly in the afternoon rather than taking a nap. Here are some other tips to help you sleep better:
- take a warm bath before going to bed
- listen to soothing music or a relaxation tape
- spend some quiet time by yourself before you go to bed
Do not take sleeping pills unless your doctor recommends them.
Massage and topical lotions
Massage increases blood flow and brings warmth to the sore area. You can massage your own muscles or you can ask your doctor to recommend a professional who is trained to give massages. If you have arthritis in your shoulders, elbows, wrists or fingers, you may not be able to give yourself a massage.
Tips for safe massage: