What Makes Ra Get Worse
Different factors affect the pace and progression of individual patients RA. Some things you cant control, like whether you have a family history of the disease. In addition, although women are more likely to get RA, when men get rheumatoid arthritis, their prognosis is generally worse, Dr. Bhatt says.
But there are factors you can control and change. We know smoking makes RA more aggressive, so smoking cessation is key, Dr. Lally says. Also, people with heavy manual occupations might stress the joints further and might have quicker progression, Dr. Bhatt says. If your workplace can make accommodations for your disease, that will help. Read more about how to make working with arthritis easier.
Exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can also help reduce stress on the joints, Dr. Bhatt says. But talk to your doctor before starting a workout regimen. A physical therapist can advise patients on the right type of exercise, he says. If patients do exercises wrong it could stress the joints even further. In addition, getting enough sleep, starting an anti-inflammatory diet, eating less red meat, and possibly using herbal remedies like turmeric may help control RA, Dr. Bhatt says. Here are more healthy habits to adopt if you have RA.
Mobility Driving & Transport Issues For People With Rheumatoid Arthritis
Mobility can be a problem for those with rheumatoid arthritis , especially when there is active inflammation. Because of the nature of RA some people have difficulty walking even short distances one week but can walk much further the next week.Those with bad rheumatoid arthritis find it particularly hard to get up in the morning, stand for any length of time, get out of chairs, kneel on the floor and find it difficult to get in and out of the bath. Many people found that their range of movement improved once treatment had started, and some found that steroid injections helped during a flare up .
Deficiencies In Some Nutrients May Trigger Or Aggravate Rheumatoid Arthritis
Several studies indicate an increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis in people with certain diets or levels of vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients.
The following studies support that one of the causes of rheumatoid arthritis may be low levels of essential nutrients.
In a study of over 57,000 patients, people who ate more fruits and cruciferous vegetables , certain antioxidant micronutrients, particularly beta-cryptoxanthin, and who took supplemental zinc had lower rates of rheumatoid arthritis.
Vitamin B levels, such as vitamin B6 are often low in rheumatoid arthritis patients and often correlate with higher homocysteine levels, a marker of inflammation.
Vitamin B12 levels were also significantly low in 24% of rheumatoid arthritis patients.
Low levels of vitamin D and low vitamin E status are risk factors or increase your chances of getting rheumatoid arthritis.
Copper levels are significantly higher in rheumatoid arthritis patients than controls.
Selenium levels in both blood and the joints are significantly lower in rheumatoid arthritis patients than those of healthy subjects and osteoarthritis patients.
Thus, low essential nutrients make you more susceptible to RA. Low stomach acidwhich is associated with poorer protein digestion and mineral uptake is often found in rheumatoid arthritis patients.
Taken together, these data indicate that your diet and nutrient levels influence your risk of getting rheumatoid arthritis.
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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.
When Should You See A Doctor
Advanced arthritis can make mobility difficult, including the ability to perform everyday activities. Ideally, you would see your physician before your condition is in the advanced stages. Thats why its important to know about this condition, especially if youre at risk for it.
Some general recommendations for when to see your physician include:
- difficulty moving a particular joint
- joint swelling
- warmth at the affected joint
Your doctor will listen to your symptoms and evaluate your medical and family history. A doctor may order further testing, such as blood, urine, joint fluid tests, or imaging studies . These tests can help determine what type of arthritis you have.
Your doctor may also use imaging tests to identify areas of injury or joint breakdown. Imaging tests include X-rays, ultrasound, or magnetic resonance imaging scans. This can also help rule out other conditions.
Your doctor may prescribe medication, recommend surgery, and encourage you to do physical therapy. At home you can ease arthritis pain by taking a warm shower, doing gentle stretching exercises, and using an ice pack on the sore area.
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Smoking And Exposure To Toxins
The greatest known environmental risk factor for rheumatoid arthritis is exposure to nicotine, particularly smoking.1
While the direct effect of smoking is not fully understood, it is believed that prolonged smoking plays a role in increasing the concentration of rheumatoid factor, which is an antibody that can be found in the blood. High levels of rheumatoid factor in the blood is one sign of RA.
How Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Affect The Entire Body
Like many autoimmune diseases, rheumatoid arthritis typically waxes and wanes. Most people with rheumatoid arthritis experience periods when their symptoms worsen separated by periods in which the symptoms improve. With successful treatment, symptoms may even go away completely .
Although rheumatoid arthritis can have many different symptoms, joints are always affected. Rheumatoid arthritis almost always affects the joints of the hands , wrists, elbows, knees, ankles, and/or feet. The larger joints, such as the shoulders, hips, and jaw, may be affected. The vertebrae of the neck are sometimes involved in people who have had the disease for many years. Usually at least two or three different joints are involved on both sides of the body, often in a symmetrical pattern. The usual joint symptoms include the following:
These symptoms may keep someone from being able to carry out normal activities. General symptoms include the following:
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Smoking And Obesity Add To The Burden Of Inflammation
Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by your immune system attacking parts of your own body as if they were dangerous germs. Among other tissues, the immune system targets membranes surrounding your joints, which are called the synovium. That leads to inflammation that can damage and even destroy the joints’ bone and cartilage.
As in other autoimmune disorders, such as lupus and psoriasis, the underlying cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not well understood. What doctors do know is that certain factorsincluding smoking and obesitycan place you at higher risk of not only getting the disease, but having more severe symptoms.
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.
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Cardiovascular And Respiratory Deaths In People With Rheumatoid Arthritis
While the causes of death were very similar among the two groups the most frequent being circulatory system diseases, cancer, and respiratory infections people with rheumatoid arthritis were more likely to succumb to those serious health problems at a younger age.
Our findings offer new insights into the importance of cardiovascular and respiratory contributions including pneumonia to shortening patient lives, says Widdifield. Her analysis shows that a third of RA deaths can be chalked up to heart disease. Both patients and physicians should be thinking about this connection earlier in the patients life. The heightened risk associated with respiratory diseases and respiratory infections should also be a cause for discussion, she says.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Rashes: Causes And Treatment
While rheumatoid arthritis primarily affects the joints and the connective tissues, other areas of the body can also be involved. More than 1,000 myRAteam members report skin rashes as one of their RA symptoms. I have a horrible rash that flares up at times on both arms, one member said. Another said, I have had a rash on and off on my right forearm for six months now.
When parts of the body besides the joints are affected by RA, the symptoms are called extra-articular manifestations. These can be divided further into two categories: general manifestations, like thinner and paler skin overall, and specific manifestations, like a nodule under the skin.
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Some Causes Of Death Are Lower In People With Rheumatoid Arthritis
While the mortality rate was higher in people with RA for several serious health conditions diseases of the circulatory system , cancers , and respiratory diseases, including respiratory infections people with RA were less likely to die from nervous system disorders, such as Alzheimers disease, and mental health disorders like dementia.
And in other promising news, Widdifield says, mortality rates for people with RA are better than they were in previous decades. Thats because of significant improvements in treatment for RA over the last decade, she says. Rheumatologists have better clinical practice. But the downside is that there arent enough rheumatologists in North America, and we have to be proactive about improving that.
Risk Factors For Rheumatoid Arthritis
Certain traits increase the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Some of these traits are inherent and cannot be changed, such as genes, and others may be influenced by lifestyle changes, such as smoking.
While risk factors are known, rheumatoid arthritis is unpredictable. Having one or even several risk factors for RA does not guarantee an individual will get the disease. And while experts theorize there may be ways to prevent RA, getting RA is never an individuals fault.
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How Is Arthritis Treated
There are many treatments that can help relieve pain and help you live with arthritis. You should talk to your doctor about the best treatments for you, which can include:
- Medications to relieve pain, slow the condition, and prevent further damage.
- Surgery to repair joint damage or relieve pain.
Doctors who diagnose and treat arthritis and other rheumatic diseases include:
- A general practitioner, such as your family doctor.
- A rheumatologist, who treats arthritis and other diseases of the bones, joints, and muscles.
You Can Get Ra If Youre Young Healthy And Dont Look Sick
This is by far the most common kind of comment I still get: How can you be so young with arthritis? or But you dont look sick.
I even see this with people I know who assume that Im doing better because I advocate, appear in the media, and gone through a health transformation. But the truth is that I am still fighting RA and it changes each year as the disease progresses.
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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.
How Scientists Study The Influence Of Your Genes
Scientists check the prevalence of rheumatoid arthritis in many sets of identical twins to measure the influence of genes on the onset and progression of rheumatoid arthritis.
Based on 3 large studies of identical twins, the chance of both twins developing rheumatoid arthritis was only 12.3% to 21%. That is, both twins had rheumatoid arthritis in about 1 out of 5 cases.
These studies mean that only 1 out of 5 genetically identical individuals to you would be expected to get RA.
Although your genes may make you more susceptible to getting rheumatoid arthritis, your genes are not one of the causes of rheumatoid arthritis.
Thus, environmental factors have a major role in triggering and aggravating your rheumatoid arthritis.
Here are some of the potential causes of RA.
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Ra Facts: What Are The Latest Statistics On Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a complex disease that affects each patient differently. People from all ethnic backgrounds are at risk of developing RA. It is the third most common type of arthritis behind osteoarthritis and gout.
Below are some RA facts and statistics provided by ongoing disease research.
What Are The Different Types Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis usually begin gradually in several joints. Sometimes the symptoms begin only in one joint, and sometimes the symptoms begin initially in the whole body, with generalized stiffness and aching, and then localize to the joints.
- Typical “classic” rheumatoid arthritis is the most common type of rheumatoid arthritis. Classic rheumatoid arthritis involves three or more joints. Usually, people have a gradual onset of joint pain, stiffness, and joint swelling, usually in the fingers, wrists, and forefeet. Elbows, shoulders, hips, ankles and knees are also commonly affected.
- About 80% of people with rheumatoid arthritis are classified as “seropositive,” which simply means the rheumatoid factor blood test is abnormal. Some people with an abnormal rheumatoid factor also have an abnormal anti-CCP blood test. This is another blood test for rheumatoid arthritis.
- Approximately 20% of people with rheumatoid arthritis are classified as “seronegative,” which means the rheumatoid factor blood test is negative, or normal. In this case, the anti-CCP blood test may be abnormal or normal. Other blood tests, such as the ESR measure of inflammation, may be abnormal.
Atypical presentations of RA
- Persistent arthritis of just one joint may be the first symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis in some people.
- Some people experience generalized aching, stiffness, weight loss, and fatigue as their initial symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
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Ra Flares Can Have Triggers
It is possible for a specific activity or event to initiate a flare-up. The activity or event sets off inflammation in the body that is difficult to stop. A flare may be triggered by:
- An illness, such as the flu
- An injury or surgery
- Certain foods
Triggers vary from person to person. In addition, not all RA flares have clear triggers.
Contact The Center For Arthritis And Joint Diseases
To learn more about our services or to make an appointment with a Brigham and Womens Hospital rheumatologist, contact one of our trained coordinators at 1-800-294-9999 to get connected with the best doctor for your needs.
Our expert rheumatologist, Daniel Solomon, MD, discusses the various treatment options for rheumatoid arthritis at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and how treatment modules are evolving through vigorous research.
Our expert rheumatologist, Michel Weinblatt, MD, has been involved in research for rheumatoid arthritis treatments for the past forty years. Find out how Brigham and Women’s is at the forefront of innovative treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.
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Are There Any Home Remedies For Rheumatoid Arthritis
If someone has joint pain or stiffness, he or she may think it is just a normal part of getting older and that there is nothing he or she can do. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are several options for medical treatment and even more to help prevent further joint damage and symptoms. Discuss these measures with a health-care professional to find ways to make them work.
- First of all, don’t delay diagnosis or treatment. Having a correct diagnosis allows a health-care professional to form a treatment plan. Delaying treatment increases the risk that the arthritis will get worse and that serious complications will develop.
- Learn everything about rheumatoid arthritis. If there are any questions, ask a health-care professional. If any questions remain, ask the health-care professional to provide reliable sources of information. Some resources are listed later in this article.
- Know the pros and cons of all of treatment options, and work with a health-care professional to decide on the best options. Understand the treatment plan and what benefits and side effects can be expected.
- Learn about the symptoms. If someone has rheumatoid arthritis, he or she probably has both general discomfort and pain in specific joints. Learn to tell the difference. Pain in a specific joint often results from overuse. Pain in a joint that lasts more than one hour after an activity probably means that that activity was too stressful and should be avoided.
Increase physical activity.