Causes Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Doctors donât know the exact cause. Something seems to trigger the immune system to attack your joints and, sometimes, other organs. Some experts think a virus or bacteria may change your immune system, causing it to attack your joints. Other theories suggest that in some people, smoking may lead to rheumatoid arthritis.
Certain genetic patterns may make some people more likely to get RA than others.
Can I Prevent Rheumatoid Arthritis
You cannot prevent rheumatoid arthritis because the cause of the disease is not known.
Quitting smoking, or never smoking, will reduce your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. You are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis if someone in your close family has it, but unfortunately there is no way to reduce this risk.
People who have rheumatoid arthritis often experience flare ups, which are times when their joints are particularly sore. Learning what triggers your flare ups can help reduce or prevent them.
For some people, stress can trigger a flare up, so can being run down or pushing yourself beyond your limits. Having an infection, missing a dose of your medicine or changing your treatment plan can also cause a flare up.
Keeping a food and activity diary may help work out your personal triggers but keep in mind that sometimes flare ups happen without any obvious cause.
Take Care Of Your Teeth And Gums
People who have rheumatoid arthritis tend to get gum disease. Some experts think that infection that enters the body through the mouth may make rheumatoid arthritis worse, although this has not been proved. You can help prevent gum disease through good basic dental care. For more information on taking care of your teeth and gums, see:
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What Is The Treatment For Rheumatoid Arthritis
While theres no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, there are many strategies to help manage the condition and its symptoms so you can continue to lead a healthy and active life. Its helpful to understand the nature of your condition and build good relationships with your doctor, rheumatologist and healthcare professionals.
Blood Tests For Rheumatoid Arthritis
There are several types of blood tests that help your healthcare provider or rheumatologist determine whether you have RA. These tests include:
- Rheumatoid factor test. The RF blood test checks for a protein called rheumatoid factor. High levels of rheumatoid factor are associated with autoimmune diseases, especially RA.
- Anticitrullinated peptide antibody test . This test looks for an antibody thats associated with RA. People who have this antibody usually have the disease. However, not everyone with RA tests positive for this antibody. The anti-CCP test is more specific for RA than the RF blood test, and often is positive before the RF test.
- Antinuclear antibody test. The antinuclear antibody panel tests your immune system to see if its producing antibodies to the nucleus of cells. Your body often makes ANA antibodies as a response to many different types of autoimmune conditions, including RA.
- Erythrocyte sedimentation rate. The ESR test helps determine the degree of inflammation in your body. The result tells your doctor whether inflammation is present. However, it doesnt indicate the cause or site of the inflammation.
- C-reactive protein test. A severe infection or significant inflammation anywhere in your body can trigger your liver to make C-reactive protein. High levels of this inflammatory marker are associated with RA.
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Stiffness In The Joints
In addition to pain, this disease causes stiffness in the affected joints. You may have difficulty getting out of bed or walking in the morning because of stiff and painful ankles, knees, or feet. This stiffness is usually worse in the mornings and can last for 45 minutes or more.
RA can also trigger swelling in the affected joints. Long-term inflammation can cause you to feel physically exhausted.
How Does It Affect Your Body
Immune system cells move from the blood into your joints and the tissue that lines them. This is called the synovium. Once the cells arrive, they create inflammation. This makes your joint swell as fluid builds up inside it. Your joints become painful, swollen, and warm to the touch.
Over time, the inflammation wears down the cartilage, a cushy layer of tissue that covers the ends of your bones. As you lose cartilage, the space between your bones narrows. As time goes on, they could rub against each other or move out of place. The cells that cause inflammation also make substances that damage your bones.
The inflammation in RA can spread and affect organs and systems throughout your body, from your eyes to your heart, lungs, kidneys, blood vessels, and even your skin.
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How Is Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosed
The diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is based on a combination of factors, including:
- Morning stiffness that lasts at least one hour and has been present for at least six weeks
- Swelling of three or more joints for at least six weeks
- Swelling of the wrist, hand, or finger joints for at least six weeks
- Swelling of the same joints on both sides of the body
- Changes in hand x-rays that are hallmarks of rheumatoid arthritis
- Rheumatoid nodules of the skin
- Blood test that is positive for rheumatoid factor* and/or anti-citrullinated peptide/protein antibodies
* The rheumatoid factor may be present in people who do not have rheumatoid arthritis. Other diseases can also cause the rheumatoid factor to be produced in the blood. A test called CCP antibody can sometimes help to determine whether the rheumatoid factor antibody is due to rheumatoid arthritis or some other disease. This is why the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is based on a combination of several factors and NOT just the presence of the rheumatoid factor in the blood.
It is also important to note that not all of these features are present in people with early rheumatoid arthritis, and these problems may be present in some people with other rheumatic conditions.
In some cases, it may be necessary to monitor the condition over time before a definitive diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis can be made.
Conditions That Can Mimic Ra
Another reason RA may be tough to diagnose in early stages is that some initial signs and symptoms can be difficult to distinguish from other conditions. Viral infections, other kinds of arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases may all be mistaken for RA, depending on which specific constellation of symptoms you have. Its important to learn about these different diseases so you can be sure to be as specific as possible when describing your medical history to your doctor.
Some of the conditions that mimic rheumatoid arthritis include:
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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.
Neglecting Your Oral Health
Research suggests that tooth loss may predict RA and its severity. Researchers who have studied the connection between RA and periodontal disease discovered similarities in the joint and oral tissues, and in the inflammatory processes that affect them. The types of cells that infiltrate both tissues of the joints in RA and of the mouth in periodontitis a progressive form of gum disease are similar. Also, the levels of pro-inflammatory proteins, such as tumor necrosis factor , interleukin-1, and interleukin-6, are also similar in both RA and periodontitis. There are potential consequences when oral health is neglected.
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Rheumatoid Arthritis Causes And Risk Factors
The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not fully understood, however there are certain risk factors that play a role:
- Rheumatoid arthritis can develop at any age and affects women more than men. Roughly 75% of patients with rheumatoid arthritis are women.
- Genetics can play a role in the development of rheumatoid arthritis. Those with a family history of RA have a slightly higher risk, about 5%, of developing RA compared to individuals without a family history.
- Smoking is a significant risk factor for developing RA.
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Talk To Your Healthcare Provider
RA is a chronic disease that doesnt currently have a cure. That said, most people with RA dont have constant symptoms. Instead, they have flare-ups followed by relatively symptom-free periods called remissions.
The course of the disease varies from person to person, and symptoms can range from mild to severe.
Though symptoms may stop for extended periods, joint problems caused by RA will usually get worse over time. Thats why early treatment is so important to help delay serious joint damage.
If youre experiencing any symptoms or have concerns about RA, talk to your healthcare provider.
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What Is The Treatment
NICE guidelines for the management of RA and the RA Quality Standard recommend that a Treat to Target approach should be adopted which should include,frequent reviewof your RA,formal assessmentof your joints to see if there is still inflammation and anescalationof therapy until good control of joint inflammation is achieved. Taking medication is necessary in RA as this is the only way you are likely to be able to adequately reduce inflammation and get your disease under control. This table shows the different types of drugs used to treat RA.
When youre first diagnosed, your consultant will want to get you started straight away on Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs orDMARDs. These can be very effective in slowing down or even halting the progress of the disease, and preventing the severe damage to joints that people with RA used to suffer.
Disease modifying treatment might be one drug or a combination of drugs. It usually includes methotrexate. This is often used as theanchor drugin treating RA, meaning a drug that others are added to, in order to get the best effect. Not all drugs work equally well for everyone, so it may take time to find the right drug or combination for you: namely, what is most effective and has the least side effects for you.
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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Leading A Sedentary Lifestyle
Regular physical activity is necessary for everyone, including people with RA, and there are numerous health benefits associated with it. Improved muscle strength, as well as better bone and joint health, is essential for people with RA. Rest is also needed, to restore the body from the episodes of intense pain and fatigue that are characteristic of RA. But rest cant become a way of life striking a balance between rest and activity is optimal. A sedentary lifestyle actually does the opposite of what you want, leading to increased pain, fatigue, and weakness.
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Take This Test: Do You Have Rheumatoid Arthritis
The most common cause for a swollen knee in a young woman?
A swollen knee in a young woman needs a reason. Whats the most common cause? Actually, I dont know the answer to that exactly. But when a 30-something year-old presents to her doctor with a swollen knee thats stiff and
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Take this test: Do you have Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Lots of people have joint pain or other joint problems. Most of the time, there are not due to rheumatoid arthritis .
There is no single test to diagnose RA. The diagnosis is made from a combination of clinical symptoms and findings, supported by various blood tests .
However, you can try this arthritis screen to determine the likelihood of having the disease by this series of questions which may act as a rheumatoid arthritis test.
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Ra Diet: What Foods To Eat If You Have Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis patients require a stable, healthy diet for a number of reasons. Patients may become overwhelmed by their chronic pain and inflammation, remain undernourished, or develop medical complications.
Maintaining a healthy diet is an important part of protecting your overall health, managing weight, improving energy levels, boosting your mental health and boosting your immune system. While diet alone cant treat your symptoms, the right diet for RA can certainly go a long way in helping you feel better overall.
Your Joints And Rheumatoid Arthritis
Joints are places where bones meet. Bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons all work together so that you can bend, twist, stretch and move about.
The ends of your bones are covered in a thin layer of cartilage. It acts like a slippery cushion absorbing shock and helping your joint move smoothly.
The joint is wrapped inside a tough capsule filled with synovial fluid. This fluid lubricates and nourishes the cartilage and other structures in the joint.
When you have rheumatoid arthritis:
- your immune system attacks your joints, which causes:
- a build-up of synovial fluid
- inflammation of the tissues that line the joint
- pain, heat and swelling
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Rest When Youre Tired
The disease itself causes fatigue. And the strain of dealing with pain and limited activities also can make you tired. The amount of rest you need depends on how bad your symptoms are.
- With severe symptoms, you may need long periods of rest. You might need to rest a joint by lying down for 15 minutes several times a day to relax. Try to find a balance between daily activities that you must do or want to do and the amount of rest you need to do those activities.
- Plan your day carefully, including rest periods. Pace your activities so that you donât get overtired.
What Ra Does To Your Heart And Lungs
RA can affect more than just your joints. Complications can involve your organs, blood vessels, and bones.
RA can damage your lungs or inflame the lining around them. This causes chest pain that worsens with breathing, called pleurisy. Lung problems are the most common symptoms of RA outside the joints. This may not cause symptoms, or you might notice shortness of breath. Your doctor can treat it with drugs that ease the inflammation in your lungs.
Severe inflammation from RA in your lungs can make the tissue stiff, thickened, and scarred. This is pulmonary fibrosis, a hard-to-treat condition that makes it tough to breathe.
Likewise, RA can inflame the lining around your heart or your heart muscle . You probably wouldnât notice symptoms from that. Thereâs a chance you could feel shortness of breath or sharp, stabbing chest pain. If you do, call your doctor. It can also raise your odds of heart failure, atrial fibrillation, and stroke.
When RA gets into the cartilage that connects your ribs to your sternum, it can feel like youâre having a heart attack. This is known as chest wall pain.
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Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis You Need To Know
Quincy AdamArthritis Learn
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may occur at any ageincluding childhood. The disease may progress over months or years. Although RA can affect anyone, it occurs more often in women.
Medications and other treatment options are available, so if you think you might be suffering from RA, discuss your symptoms with a doctor to get a diagnosis. In the meantime, you can review these symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis to see if you have any of them.
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How Diet Affects Ra
Although there is no demonstrable link between diet and RA, studies have shown that the type of inflammation experienced in RA could be modulated by certain foods. Increased inflammation has been attributed to processed foods or foods cooked at higher temperatures.
It is recommended to increase consumption of foods that are considered to be anti-inflammatory, such as fruits, veggies, and cold water fish . As a result, inflammatory symptoms may improve and possibly lead to fewer flare-ups.
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How Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Affect Relationships And Sexuality
Rheumatoid arthritis influences your everyday life and work, but it also affects your relationship and sexuality. The disease may have an impact on many different parts of a relationship, such as the roles you have, the division of chores in the household, mutual plans and what you can do together in your spare time.. Not going to parties or on trips together, or not participating in sports that you both enjoy, may lead to disappointment and make it harder to develop a feeling of togetherness.
Sometimes people with rheumatoid arthritis have the feeling that their partner doesn’t show enough understanding for the situation they are in. Friends and family also need to first learn about what effects the disease has and it may be hard for them to deal with too. It changes the lives of both partners. It’s not always easy to see the other in pain, or to deal with more limitations and take on more responsibilities. It’s important not to blame yourself or anyone else, because the disease and its effects are no one’s “fault.”
Some couples don’t speak enough about their problems. But honest talks about stress, needs, worries and fears can be helpful to understand what the other person is going through. It might be better to come up with ideas together about changing habits, like planning fun activities spontaneously rather than far in advance, taking more breaks to rest when on trips, and reconsidering who takes care of which chores.