Depression And Mood Changes
According to the Mayo Clinic,;RA and depression commonly occur together. Doctors dont know whether depression and anxiety in people with RA are a result of the physical symptoms, or if depression is itself a symptom caused by the chronic, systemic inflammation of the disease. But doctors do know that if the depression isnt addressed and treated, the treatment for the arthritis can be less effective.;
If you suspect your symptoms could be rheumatoid arthritis, you should get to a doctor promptly. Your primary care doctor is usually a good place to start. If they suspect RA or a related disease, they may refer you to a rheumatologist for further testing. A rheumatologist is a specialist who treats musculoskeletal and certain autoimmune or inflammatory conditions.;
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
Joint Pain And Stiffness
Because RA is a type of arthritis, joint pain is one of the key early symptoms to watch for. If you notice your joints are feeling sore, painful, or tender to the touch anywhere on your body, you should be concerned.
Your joints may also feel stiff. Joint stiffness can occur with or separately from joint paint, but it often begins in the hands and comes on slowly.
Its important to note that this is a symptom with a unique trait. Unlike some other forms of arthritis, joint pain thats the product of rheumatoid arthritis typically appears on both sides of the body. For example, if you have joint pain in one knee, its likely to occur in the opposite knee too.
Also Check: What Can Help Rheumatoid Arthritis
Lifestyle Changes That Help Ease Ra Symptoms
In addition to treatment with drugs, the following remedies and lifestyle approaches can help alleviate symptoms at any stage of RA:
Occupational or Physical Therapy;Rheumatologists frequently refer patients to occupational or physical therapy practitioners to help patients find ways of moving that are less painful, and that strengthen muscles, says Manno. Decreased movement can cause muscles to atrophy and can reduce a persons cardiovascular fitness.
The Symptoms Of Ra Developed Quite Suddenly With Excruciating Pain In His Left Arm And Right Hand
Another man developed a ‘tremendous pain’ in his left ankle. He couldn’t sleep, couldn’t walk, and was in tears with pain. His wife called the GP, who gave him something to ‘knock him out’ and a large dose of steroid.
One woman was shocked at the speed in which her symptoms developed. She had severe pains in her wrists and knees when she woke up in the morning, and couldn’t understand why she was ‘almost back to normal’ by the evening.The GP diagnosed some people with related conditions. One man was diagnosed with polymyalgia rheumatica and was treated for two years with steroids. He reduced the dosage but the symptoms persisted so the GP referred him to a specialist. He regretted not going to the GP sooner.
Read Also: How Do I Know If I Have Hip Arthritis
Living With Rheumatoid Arthritis
There is no cure for RA. But it is important to help keep your joints working well by reducing pain and inflammation. Work on a treatment plan with your healthcare provider that includes medicine and physical therapy. Work on lifestyle changes that can improve your quality of life. Lifestyle changes include:
- Activity and rest.;To reduce stress on your joints, switch between activity and rest. This can help protect your joints and lessen your symptoms.
- Using assistive devices.;Canes, crutches, and walkers can help to keep stress off certain joints and to improve balance.
- Using adaptive equipment.;Reachers and grabbers let you extend your reach and reduce straining. Dressing aids help you get dressed more easily.
- Managing the use of medicines.;Medicines for this condition have some risks. Work with your healthcare provider to create a plan to reduce this risk.
- Seeking support.;Find a support group that can help you deal with the effects of RA.
What Are The 5 Worst Foods To Eat If You Have Arthritis
- Trans-fat and fatty foods such as baked foods, cakes, doughnuts, cookies, pizza, and fried chicken
- Foods that contain gluten such as bread, bulgur, wheat, cakes, pies, candies, cereals, communion wafers, cookies and crackers.
- White sugar and refined carbohydrates such as white flour, white bread, white rice, pastries, sodas, snacks, pasta, sweets, and cereals.
- Processed and fried foods such as french fries, fried chicken, cereal, cheese, cookies, chips, etc.
- Grilled, boiled, or fried red meat.
Read Also: Why Does Psoriatic Arthritis Hurt So Bad
What Can I Do Right Now
Ways In Which Rheumatoid Arthritis Can Affect Feet
- Hammertoes Changes in the tissues around the toe joints cause an abnormal bending of the toes called hammertoe.
- Bunions;Changes in the tissues around joints of the big toe cause it to bend toward the little toe and develop a bony nodule.
- Pes Planus;This;loosening of the arch joint in the middle of the foot may result in a painful flat foot.
- Hindfoot Valgus;The;loosening of the joint below the ankle causes the foot to bend outward.
Skin And Mucous Membranes
Around 20% of people with rheumatoid arthritis will develop hardened bumps beneath the skin called rheumatoid nodules. They most often develop on the elbows, knees, or knuckles.
Several skin-related symptoms may develop in later-stage disease, including:
RA is associated with a few problems involving the heart and circulation, including:
- Pericarditis, inflammation of the membrane surrounding the heart
- Vasculitis, constriction of capillaries that may cut off circulation
- Increased risk of stroke and heart attack
Your healthcare provider can help you find ways to lower your risk of these possible complications.
The long-term complications of RA translate to reduced life expectancy. People with RA may live 10 to 15 years less than they otherwise would if they didn’t have the disease. Cardiovascular disease is leading cause of death in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Swelling Of The Joints
Swelling of the joints is quite a common symptoms in rheumatoid arthritis. Usually, somebody who is affected can easily notice when their joints are enlarged. This occurs when the wall of the affected joints becomes inflamed, causing the joints to swell. Therefore the joints may seem stinging and painful to touch.
Also Check: Does Glucosamine Help Arthritis Pain
Numbness And Tingling In The Hands
Numbness and tingling in the hands is a common early symptom of RA. To understand why this happens, you first have to understand the parts and function of the wrist.
The bones of your wrist are called carpal bones. The carpal bones and a ligament form a tunnel in your wrist. A nerve and tendons run through this tunnel. The nerve supplies sensation and feeling to the thumb side of your hand. If this nerve becomes compressed within that tunnel, numbness in your thumb and fingers can occur. This nerve compression also leads to wrist pain and is known as carpal tunnel syndrome . CTS is a common early symptom of RA.5
How To Manage Symptoms To Slow Or Halt Ra Joint Damage And Diseaseprogression
Getting on medication right away is the No. 1 thing people can do to improve RA symptoms and stop the disease from progressing. Your doctor should start you on;methotrexate, according to guidelines published in July 2021 by the American College of Rheumatology .
If this treatment alone doesn’t yield the desired results, biologics should be added, the ACR advises.
“There is a window of opportunity at the beginning of the disease when you have the best chance of treating with drugs to stop RA from causing damage and the earlier a person starts aggressive drug therapy, the better, says Dr. Greer.
Complications Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Because RA damages joints over time, it causes some disability. It can cause pain and movement problems. You may be less able to do your normal daily activities and tasks. This can also lead to problems such as depression and anxiety.
RA can also affect many nonjoint parts of the body, such as the lungs, heart, skin, nerves, muscles, blood vessels, and kidneys.;These complications can lead to severe illness and even death.
Why Your Mental Health Matters With Ra
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.
Reduced Ranged Of Motion
In early RA, the joints are only mildly restricted. As RA advances, limited range of motion results from swelling and weakness in the joints.
Joint movement becomes harder, and balance is affected. The reduced range of motion might also cause limping and losses of coordination, grip, and dexterity, even in the early stages.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Ra
With RA, there are times when symptoms get worse, known as flares, and times when symptoms get better, known as remission.
Signs and symptoms of RA include:
- Pain or aching in more than one joint
- Stiffness in more than one joint
- Tenderness and swelling in more than one joint
- The same symptoms on both sides of the body
- Weight loss
Early Signs Of Rheumatoid Arthritis That All Women Need To Know
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder thats best known for taking a toll on your joints. The condition affects the lining of your joints, causing a painful swelling that can eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity. In some people, rheumatoid arthritis can also damage other body systems, including the skin, eyes, lungs, heart and blood vessels.
An autoimmune disorder, rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the bodys own tissues. This is different from osteoarthritis, a condition which has similar symptoms but is the result of the wear-and-tear of everyday strenuous life.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, about 1.5 million Americans have rheumatoid arthritis, and three times as many women as men are affected by the disease. Spotting signs and symptoms as early as possible is essential in effectively treating the condition. Timely and regular management can hinder severe joint damage and prevent related disabilities later in life. Look through the list below to better educate yourself and your female friends on rheumatoid arthritis:
StiffnessPeople with rheumatoid arthritis might experience joint stiffness that is usually worse in the mornings or after inactivity. As with joint sensitivity, stiffness is usually felt in the smaller joints first.
FatigueFatigue from rheumatoid arthritis can be caused by the bodys reaction to inflammation, poor sleep, anemia and/or medications.
Fatigue Or Feeling Tired
Fatigue is different from feeling tired. Fatigue is described as total exhaustion and can make you lose interest in doing anything. You may find yourself needing more and more sleep. Even after a long night of sleep, you might wake up feeling tired and unrested. Severe fatigue can make you feel like you have lost control of your life, as you cannot plan when you are tired.3
Fatigue is a nearly universal RA symptom, with up to 80 percent of people with the condition reporting feeling this way.4
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.
Chronic Swelling And Inflammation In Synovial Lining In Joints
No one knows exactly why RA targets the small joints of the feet and hands first, but experts do know that the synovial lining is involved.
The synovial lining is the thin layer of cells between all joints. A joint is where two bones meet, and the synovial lining is the thin layer of cells between them. Joints are covered in cartilage to cushions them, and the synovial lining between joints nourishes both the cartilage and bones.
Experts believe that RA develops when the white blood cells that normally protect the body turn on the joints instead, causing inflammation. This may occur because a person is predisposed, due to genes or environmental factors.
This inflammation is why people with RA experience pain, heat, and swelling early in the disease process .
Numbness Or Tingling In The Hands
Tingling in the hands and fingers
The most regular symptom of RA is numbness or tingling in the hands, also known as carpal tunnel syndrome. When your joint is inflated, your nerve can send sensations painful feeling to your wrists or hands. Therefore, it is necessary to inform your doctor if numbness or tingling occurs in your hands or other parts of your body.
Drug Treatments And Challenges
Your doctor will probably give you the same drugs used to treat early-onset RA. These include:
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
You might have more challenges with your medication, especially if you take drugs for other health conditions. This boosts your chances of a bad reaction to the medicine.
You may also have a harder time with drug side effects. NSAIDs increase your chances of heart, brain, gut, and kidney problems. Corticosteroids up the odds of glaucoma, osteoporosis, and other health problems.
What Treatment Options Are Available For Ra
There are medications that help manage RA symptoms and control inflammation, such as NSAIDs, corticosteroids, disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, and biologics. However, there are non-medication treatment options as well. Non-pharmacologic treatment options include rest, exercise, physical and occupational therapies, dietary management, and, in some cases, surgery.
What Are The Less Common Forms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis can begin in less common forms. For example, it can begin with the involvement of only a single joint or a few joints. Sometimes, this can later evolve to the more common presentation of many joints on both sides of the body.
Rarely, the earliest symptom of rheumatoid disease is inflammation of a body area that does not even involve a joint. For example, the lining of the lungs can become inflamed to cause pleurisy many months before arthritis develops.
Occasionally, only a few joints are involved and the doctor may suspect another type of inflammatory arthritis. Again, this can sometimes only later evolve to become the more typical symmetrical polyarthritis by including many joints on both sides of the body.
The caveat is that by recognizing the early symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis rheumatologists and their patients can address the disease early, thereby affording optimal outcomes for those affected.