How Your Ra Treatment Plan Prevents Disease Progression
Perhaps the biggest factor that affects how RA progresses is if youre in treatment with a specialist who can put you on medications to slow the disease. Being on a DMARD or biologic therapy for RA is the best way to prevent progression, Dr. Lally says.
Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs are usually the first line in medication. Methotrexate is the anchor drug for rheumatoid arthritis, Dr. Bhatt says. Some patients are scared because methotrexate is also used for cancer chemotherapy so they dont want to take a chemo pill, but those we use for RA are a very small dose with lesser chance of side effects. Your doctor will reassess in a month or so and see if its necessary to add in other drugs.
If after three to six months they have still not responded then we progress to medications called biologics, Dr. Bhatt says. These genetically engineered drugs target the inflammation process specifically, and are usually self-injected or infused via IV in your doctors office or a medical center. There are sub-classes and different types, Dr. Bhatt says. Your doctor will try various medications to see which you respond best to.
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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How Rheumatoid Arthritis Affects You Over Time
When you deal with inflammation for a long time without any treatment, it can damage the cartilage of your bones. The cartilage is elastic-like tissue that covers bones and joints. When the effects of rheumatoid arthritis go unchecked, the normal joint spacing between bones becomes smaller. In addition to causing pain in the joints, the shrinking of this space can also lead to loose and unstable joints that you may have trouble controlling voluntarily.
The most common areas of the body affected by rheumatoid arthritis include the ankles, elbows, feet, hands, knees, and wrists. The disease is symmetrical, which means it typically affects both the right and left body part at the same time. It is also important to realize that rheumatoid arthritis can affect respiratory, cardiovascular, or other body systems. This makes it a systemic disease, which means that it affects your entire body.
Joint deformity is another common issue with untreated rheumatoid arthritis.
Unfortunately, damage to the joints is not reversible. This is the reason we recommend early diagnosis and aggressive treatment at UHC Rheumatology. While this disease is incurable, it is possible to treat it and manage the symptoms.
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What It Feels Like To Have Ra + Oa
Although everyone is different, a typical day with both forms of arthritis might look like this: You wake up with the morning joint stiffness and pain characteristic of RA, says Dr. Bhatt. Those symptoms ease up after a few hours and with activity. Later in the day and after more activity, the pain and stiffness come roaring back, the classic end-of-day MO of OA. The pain with RA tends to occur when youre at rest, while OA aches are more likely to happen with movement. In addition to those OA aches, you might also notice a grating sensation or sound of bone on bone when you use a particular joint.
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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Heres Why The Disease Progresses What To Expect And How To Stop It
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic condition for which there is no cure. But even though the disease is progressive, newer disease-modifying drugs may actually be able to slow or even halt it getting worse. We have many effective treatments for RA that help control the symptoms of joint pain and stiffness, but also prevent progression of the disease and the development of permanent damage, says Lindsay Lally, MD, a rheumatologist at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.
Early treatment for RA is key, because whatever joint damage has already occurred cant be reversed. Find out how to recognize the symptoms at each stage of RA, and what can be done to treat it.
What You Can Do
Write a list that includes:
- Detailed descriptions of your symptoms
- Information about medical problems youve had in the past
- Information about the medical problems of your parents or siblings
- All the medications and dietary supplements you currently take and have taken in the past for this problem
- Questions you want to ask the doctor
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Ra Progression: What Are The Signs Of Rheumatoid Arthritis Progression
If you suspect you have rheumatoid arthritis or have been recently diagnosed with RA, you will likely have lots of questions and be feeling uncertain about what this disease means for your future. What is the normal RA progression? Will my symptoms get worse? How can I manage the disease? Do I have to have a surgery?
These are all frequent questions asked by RA sufferers. The reality though is that each patient will experience a unique progression of this disease. RA progression depends on multiple unpredictable variables. Because it is still unclear exactly what triggers RA, it can be nearly impossible to predict an exact outcome.
Below is some general information about what to expect as well as the different stages of RA including the advanced condition known as progressive rheumatoid arthritis.
What Are The Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis affects everyone differently. In some people, joint symptoms develop over several years. In other people, rheumatoid arthritis symptoms progress rapidly. Many people have time with symptoms and then time with no symptoms .
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include:
- Pain, swelling, stiffness and tenderness in more than one joint.
- Stiffness, especially in the morning or after sitting for long periods.
- Pain and stiffness in the same joints on both sides of your body.
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Numbness And Tingling Sensations
Inflammation from RA can cause nerve compression, which can affect the nerves around the joints. This can cause a person to develop damaged nerves, called peripheral neuropathy.
This nerve damage can cause a loss of sensation, and people may experience numbness or a tingling sensation in their hands and feet.
Ra Progression Isnt Inevitable
Thanks to the newer treatments available and more on the horizon RA doesnt have to mean a life of eventual disability or even limited mobility. Its not an inevitable thing nowadays, says Dr. Bhatt. People can have a normal life.
But patients do have to be sure to follow their treatment plan and doctors recommendations. Routine follow-up with a rheumatologist who performs joint exams, follows levels of systemic inflammation in the blood and can assess function is the best way to ensure RA is being controlled and is not progressing, Dr. Lally says.
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What Does Ra Look And Feel Like
RA may be most visible in your hands and feet, particularly as the disease progresses and especially if you dont currently have a treatment plan.
Swelling of fingers, wrists, knees, ankles, and toes are common. Damage to ligaments and swelling in the feet can cause a person with RA to have trouble walking.
If you dont get treatment for RA, you may develop severe deformities in your hands and feet. Deformities of the hands and fingers may cause a curved, claw-like appearance.
Your toes can also take on a claw-like look, sometimes bending upward and sometimes curling under the ball of the foot.
You may also notice ulcers, nodules, bunions, and calluses on your feet.
Lumps, called rheumatoid nodules, can appear anywhere on your body where joints are inflamed. These can range in size from very small to the size of a walnut or larger, and they can occur in clusters.
Rheumatoid Can Attack Your Foot And Ankle
Rheumatoid arthritis affects joints because the immune system sees your own body as an invader. Classically, the inflammation involves the joints, and these can include your foot and ankle. That’s when it can become nearly impossible to walk.
A swollen and painful ankle and foot make it hard to support your body weight while standing or walking. After all, these joints make up the supportive base for the rest of your body. Walking also involves having to move your ankle and foot, which could exacerbate any symptoms involving these joints. The swelling could also make your feet much bigger than they normally are, making it impossible to fit them into your shoes.
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Is Rheumatoid Arthritis Hereditary
Rheumatoid arthritis isnt considered a hereditary disease, but it does run in some families. This may be due to environmental causes, genetic causes, or a combination of both.
If you have family members who have or have had RA, talk to your healthcare provider, especially if you have any symptoms of persistent joint pain, swelling, and stiffness unrelated to overuse or trauma.
Having a family history of RA increases your risk of getting the disease, and early diagnosis can make a big difference in how effective treatment will be.
What Is The Difference
Rheumatoid arthritis vs. osteoarthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are both common causes of pain and stiffness in joints. But they have different causes. In osteoarthritis, inflammation and injury break down your cartilage over time. In rheumatoid arthritis, your immune system attacks the lining of your joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis vs. gout
Rheumatoid arthritis and gout are both painful types of arthritis. Gout symptoms include intense pain, redness, stiffness, swelling and warmth in your big toe or other joints. In gout, uric acid crystals cause inflammation. In rheumatoid arthritis, its your immune system that causes joint damage.
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Rheumatoid Arthritis Flare Treatment
If your symptoms are revving up while youre on RA meds, your doctor may add an injectable or oral steroid to the mix. These drugs help to curb the inflammation quickly, says Saika Sharmeen, M.D., assistant professor in the division of rheumatology at Stony Brook Medicine in Stony Brook, NY. Beyond that, you might consider one of these home remedies or supplements to help ease your symptoms:
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How Is Rheumatoid Arthritis Managed
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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How Can You Know If Your Rheumatoid Is Active In Your Feet
The most common signs of foot and ankle involvement in rheumatoid patients are swelling, redness, warmth, tenderness, and stiffness. The pain and stiffness are usually present in the heels, balls of the feet, toes, or ankles. The stiffness is most noticeable in the morning, and may actually get better throughout the day with mild activity. Sometimes, patients can also find pain in their Achilles tendon, which is the tendon that is located at the back of the ankle. This can really make it difficult to squat or walk uphill, as these movements put extra tension on this particular tendon. When having a joint flare, you can sometimes get systemic symptoms too, such as weakness, fever, and fatigue.
Is There A Cure For Rheumatoid Arthritis
There is no cure yet, however, we now know a great deal about what causes RA, and how to control it and prevent joint damage. This is achieved by the early implementation of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs . These are essential to gain rapid control of the disease, in order to avoid joint erosions and long-term limitation of function.
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Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include:
- Joint pain at rest and when moving, along with tenderness, swelling, and warmth of the joint.
- Joint stiffness that lasts longer than 30 minutes, typically after waking in the morning or after resting for a long period of time.
- Fatigue feeling unusually tired or having low energy.
- Occasional low-grade fever.
- Loss of appetite.
Rheumatoid arthritis can happen in any joint however, it is more common in the wrist, hands, and feet. The symptoms usually happen on both sides of the body, in a symmetrical pattern. For example, if you have RA in the right hand, you likely also have it in the left hand.
RA affects people differently. In some people, RA starts with mild or moderate inflammation affecting just a few joints. However, if it is not treated or the treatments are not working, RA can worsen and affect more joints. This can lead to more damage and disability. At times, RA symptoms worsen in flares due to a trigger such as stress, too much activity, or suddenly stopping medications.
The goal of treatment is to control the disease so it is in remission or near remission, with no signs or symptoms of the disease.
Rheumatoid arthritis can cause other medical problems, such as:
- Rheumatoid nodules that are firm lumps just below the skin.
- Anemia due to low blood cell counts.
- Neck pain and dry eyes and mouth.
- Rarely, inflammation of the blood vessels, the lining of the lungs, or the sac enclosing the heart.
Lifestyle And Home Remedies
You can take steps to care for your body if you have rheumatoid arthritis. These self-care measures, when used along with your rheumatoid arthritis medications, can help you manage your signs and symptoms:
- Exercise regularly. Gentle exercise can help strengthen the muscles around your joints, and it can help reduce fatigue you might feel. Check with your doctor before you start exercising. If youre just getting started, begin by taking a walk. Avoid exercising tender, injured or severely inflamed joints.
- Apply heat or cold. Heat can help ease your pain and relax tense, painful muscles. Cold may dull the sensation of pain. Cold also has a numbing effect and can reduce swelling.
- Relax. Find ways to cope with pain by reducing stress in your life. Techniques such as guided imagery, deep breathing and muscle relaxation can all be used to control pain.
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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.