Starting And Raising A Family
If you are taking medicines for rheumatoid arthritis, let your healthcare team know if you want to start a family or if you are worried about becoming pregnant while on medication.
Some medications, such as methotrexate, leflunomide and biological treatments, should not be taken by men or women while they are trying for a baby. The doctors and nurses will work with you to ensure your rheumatoid arthritis is controlled while you are trying to get pregnant.
Babies and young children are physically and mentally demanding for any parent, but particularly so if you have rheumatoid arthritis. If you are struggling to cope, it may help to talk to other people in the same situation as you. You may also be able to get additional support from your health visitor or occupational therapist to help you manage your young family.
The Future Of Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment
My colleagues and I hope this research can shed light on the origins of rheumatoid arthritis. Our next goal is to discover how common these bacteria are in the general population and test whether the presence of these bacteria in the gut may lead to the development of rheumatoid arthritis in people.
Its important to note that antibiotics are unlikely to be helpful treatment for the microbiomes of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Although Subdoligranulum didolesgii may be triggering an autoimmune response for some people with rheumatoid arthritis, antibiotics eliminate both helpful and harmful bacteria in the gut. Additionally, removing the bacteria wont necessarily stop the immune system from attacking the joints once it has started.
Nevertheless, we believe that these bacteria can be used as tools to develop treatments for rheumatoid arthritis and hopefully ways to prevent disease from happening in the first place.
Rheumatoid Arthritis And Your Circulatory System: Ra Can Trigger Anemia And Fatigue
A large percentage of people living with RA experience anemia, a shortage of red blood cells or the iron-rich hemoglobin in the red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen from your lungs to all the cells in the body and organs, so when your organs arent getting enough O2, you can experience weakness, fatigue, headaches, shortness of breath, dizziness, and more.
There are different types of anemia, and the most common type in RA patients is called anemia of inflammation and chronic disease , explains rheumatologist Robert W. Lightfoot, MD, a professor of medicine in the division of rheumatology at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine in Lexington.
No one knows exactly why anemia is more common with RA, but it may be that RAs inflammatory molecules interfere with the bodys ability to use iron, which in turn leads to anemia. Iron supplementation can help, but the best treatment is keeping the inflammation of RA under control with DMARD medication.
Another cause of fatigue: Inflammation can trigger the release of cytokines, molecules that are associated with fatigue. In addition, the depression and pain that can come along with RA can readily sap energy.
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How Is Rheumatoid Arthritis Treated
Your healthcare provider will figure out the best treatment for you based on:
- How old you are
- How well you handle certain medicines, treatments, or therapies
- If your condition is expected to get worse
- Your opinion or preference
There is no cure for RA. The goal of treatment is often to limit pain and inflammation, and help ensure function. You may have 1 or more types of treatments. Treatment may include:
- Medicines. Some medicines may be used for pain relief. Some are used to treat inflammation. Others can help to slow the disease from getting worse. Medicines should be managed by a rheumatologist. This is a doctor who specializes in arthritis and rheumatic diseases. You may need regular blood tests to check how the medicines affect your blood cells, liver, and kidneys.
- Splints. Splints may be used to help protect the joints and strengthen weak joints.
- Physical therapy. Physical therapy may be used to help increase the strength and movement of the affected areas.
In some cases, surgery may be an option if other treatments dont work. Surgery does not cure RA. It helps correct the deformities caused by the disease. After surgery, RA can still cause problems. You may even need more surgery. Joint repair or reconstruction can be done in many ways, including:
What Are The Tests For Rheumatoid Arthritis
The doctor will want to check your blood and other fluids. Theyâll also probably take images of your joints.
The doctor may use a needle to take blood or joint fluid while youâre in the office. Or they might send you to a lab for these tests. Rheumatologists look for signs of inflammation like:
- Anti-cyclic citrullinated peptides antibodies. They signal bone damage caused by RA.
- C-reactive protein . Levels go up when you have inflammation.
- Erythrocyte sedimentation rate . It measures the speed at which your blood settles to the bottom of a test tube. Faster settling is a sign of inflammation.
- Rheumatoid factor. Your body churns out these proteins when it attacks healthy tissue.
- Synovial fluid. Your doctor will test it for proteins, signs of infection, and a lack of thickness.
Your doctor may order X-rays an MRI scan, which uses powerful magnets and radio waves to make a more detailed picture or a CT scan, which takes X-rays from several angles and puts them together to get more information.
You might not get a definite RA diagnosis on your first visit. In some cases, it can take a few appointments for your rheumatologist to rule out other causes of your joint pain.
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Arthritis In The Back And Spine
Arthritis of the spine often occurs with aging, but can progress faster in people who have poor posture, are very sedentary, do not exercise, or are overweight.
Symptoms of spinal arthritis include:
- Stiffness in the spine and loss of range of motion
- Tenderness over the affected vertebrae of the spine
- Possible nerve root compression
Arthritis of the spine can cause degenerative narrowing of the openings in the vertebrae where the spinal cord and nerve roots sit. If the narrowing is severe, compression of the spinal cord or nerve roots can develop, causing radiating pain into the hips and legs, resulting in a condition called spinal stenosis. Other symptoms include numbness, weakness, burning, or tingling in the legs.
mr.suphachai praserdumrongchai / Getty Images
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Rheumatoid Arthritis And Kidney Function: What To Know
Amyloidosis, a condition caused by the abnormal buildup of certain proteins that can impair kidney function, may occur in association with RA usually in the later stages or if someones disease isnt well-controlled with medication. The symptoms can be vague, such as weakness or swelling, and can include an enlarged spleen and gastrointestinal issues.
To screen for amyloidosis, rheumatologists will periodically check your kidney function.
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Rheumatoid Arthritis And Your Hands And Feet
Since RA is a condition of the joints, its obvious that it affects a persons hands and feet. But beyond pain, RA can cause other distortions and deformities if it is not treated as early as possible with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs .
Some of the most common symptoms affecting the hands include locking joints, ulnar drift , swan neck deformities , and even ruptured tendons. All these effects can make basic life tasks such as writing, holding objects, and unscrewing lids difficult.
The hands can also be affected by muscle cramping, which can be relieved by gentle movements and warm compresses. More concerning, the swelling of RA may put pressure on the median nerve , causing numbness or carpal tunnel syndrome. See your doctor if you experience any of these.
In the feet, uncontrolled inflammation may lead to painful conditions like hammertoes , bunion , pes planus , and valgus hind foot .
In addition to seeing your rheumatologist and, if necessary, a podiatrist, you may also consult an occupational or physical therapist. These experts help you learn ways of moving that are less painful and that strengthen muscles, says Rebecca Manno, MD, a rheumatologist and adjunct assistant professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.
Expert Q& A: Just Dealing With Chronic Pain
Why itâs important to get proper treatment for chronic pain.
Q: With both fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis, I have constant pain. Even with treatment, it never goes away completely. Ive just been dealing with it. Is that OK?
Chronic pain is not a problem you should just put up with in fact, you should be dealing with chronic pain in ways that are effective. This is important because an increasing number of studies show serious consequences of having chronic pain. It may cause damage to certain areas of the brain, just as chronic stress does. Chronic pain also may lead to psychological problems, such as depression social problems, such as isolation or decreased earning potential and functional problems, such as decreased activity or disability.
Medications can also be helpful. For moderate-to-severe knee osteoarthritis , the supplement glucosamine may provide some relief, as may the right combination of analgesics or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs . There are three drugs specifically approved for use in fibromyalgia, as well as many drugs that have been shown to be effective but are not specifically approved.
Tell your doctor that the treatments you tried previously are not resolving your chronic pain, and then work with him to find the right combination of treatments for you. It may take some time, but the result will be worth the effort.
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Ra And The Cardiovascular System
Your cardiovascular system refers to your heart and the many blood vessels that pump oxygen-rich blood through your body, delivering nutrients to organs and removing waste. According to an overview of RA and its effect on the cardiovascular system in the journal Rheumatology, rheumatoid arthritis has been linked to several cardiovascular diseases, including pericarditis, cardiomyopathy/myocarditis, coronary vasculitis, valve diseases, congestive heart failure, and ischaemic heart disease. Whats more, people with rheumatoid arthritis have a higher mortality rate than the general population, and the primary reason for this is related to complications from cardiovascular diseases.
Can Malnutrition Cause Joint Pain
Vitamin Deficiencies The lack of vitamins and other nutrients can exacerbate or even cause chronic pain. It is believed that Vitamin D deficiency, for example, contributes to painful conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease.
Why Do My Joints Hurt More When It Rains? – Big Questions –
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What Is The Outlook For People With Rheumatoid Arthritis Rashes
There are no permanent solutions that can completely prevent RA rashes from occurring. Doctors may try a combination of medications to help you manage your condition. These treatments may reduce inflammation and minimize joint damage.
Its important that people with RA take measures to live as healthy a lifestyle as possible. Examples of lifestyle practices that may benefit a person with RA include:
- Getting plenty of rest, which can help to reduce fatigue symptoms and minimize joint inflammation.
- Exercising whenever possible, which can help to enhance joint mobility and build strong, flexible muscles.
- Taking measures to cope with stress, such as meditation, reading, taking a walk, or doing other activities to promote relaxation.
- Eating a balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. This can help you maintain a moderate weight, which is important in supporting joint health.
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.
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What Is The Safest Drug For Rheumatoid Arthritis
The safest drug for rheumatoid arthritis is one that gives you the most benefit with the least amount of negative side effects. This varies depending on your health history and the severity of your RA symptoms. Your healthcare provider will work with you to develop a treatment program. The drugs your healthcare provider prescribes will match the seriousness of your condition.
Its important to meet with your healthcare provider regularly. Theyll watch for any side effects and change your treatment, if necessary. Your healthcare provider may order tests to determine how effective your treatment is and if you have any side effects.
Heat Therapy For Joint Pain
After a long day, soaking in a steaming shower or bathtub, sipping a cup of hot tea, or cozying up in a warm robe can make you feel comforted and soothed. Theres a reason you reach for heat when you need relief from pain or stress: Heat is relaxing. Stiff, tense, and sore muscles can be relaxed and relieved with a little heat, and joints affected by arthritis pain are no different. Not only does heat relax muscles, it also stimulates blood flow and improves circulation, helps increases range of motion, and reduces stiffness in painful joints.
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How Is It Treated
Although there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, there are manytreatments offering relief of symptoms and increasing the ability to functionat, or near, normal levels. Medications include non-steroidalanti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen, which areoften used to reduce pain and swelling. Newer drugs called COX-2inhibitors are used to manage pain and inflammation with fewer stomachulcers than NSAIDs but are much more expensive. Corticosteroidmedications may be used to reduce inflammation and pain. Because of sideeffects, they cannot be used for long periods of time. Disease-modifyinganti-rheumatic agents are used to limit the amount of jointdamage. Biologic response modifiers delay structural damage in patientswith moderately to severely active RA. They target the specific components ofthe immune system that contribute to disease, while leaving other components ofthe immune system intact. Successful management of arthritis pain anddisability includes self-management. It is important for patients tolearn about their disease and take part in their own care. Working with healthcare professionals allows a person to share in decision making and gain a senseof control.
Self-management includes arthritis education, exercise programs, rest,relaxation and stress management, eating well-balance meals and maintainingproper weight, taking care of joints and using assistive devices to rest jointsand relieve pressure.
Does Stress Affect Rheumatoid Arthritis
Patients commonly report that stress, either physical or emotional, was present or severe when their RA began. This is true in other autoimmune disorders as well. Since the mind-body connection is very real, most doctors agree that there is a link between stress and disease onset or flares.
Because there are clear interactions between the nervous, immune and endocrine systems, the impact of stress on disease presentation and severity is explainable in physiologic terms. Obviously, life is stressful. Thus, how to employ stress reduction in a therapeutic regimen is up to the individual patient, in concert with the physician. Many patients have found benefits from mindfulness programs that facilitate learning tools to reduce the impact of stress.
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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, itÃ¢s a byproduct of years of treating RA with steroids.
- Liver and kidneys. ItÃ¢s 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 SjogrenÃ¢s 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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Myth : Apple Cider Vinegar Cuts The Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain
Although it is a popular home remedy for weak and achy joints, one must not fall for this. Despite the claims that apple cider vinegar contains nutrients that can fight rheumatoid arthritis, there is no evidence that it does so. It isnt harmful to patients to take apple cider vinegar, but one must realise that it wont cure the pain.
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