When To Call Your Doctor
Dr. Cotter urges anyone who experiences sudden symptoms of arthritis to seek medical attention immediately. If left untreated, these symptoms could lead to long-term problems in the joint.
“It is not normal for a joint to suddenly swell, and getting the correct diagnosis is of the utmost importance,” she says. “Early diagnosis and intervention will mean a better outcome.”
Any persistent issues warrant a call to your doctor as well, she says. For example, if you have joint pain without swelling or joint swelling without pain that persists, you should see your doctor for an evaluation.
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.
Doctors Dont Know What Triggers The Process But Believe Several Risk Factors Are Involved:
- Gender. Women are two to three times more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, leading researchers to believe that hormones may play a role in preventing or triggering the disease.
- Age. RA can occur at any age, but usually begins in middle age.
- Family history. An individual who has a family member with RA has an increased risk of developing the disease.
- Smoking. Smoking is also associated with increased severity of RA.
- Environment. Exposure to asbestos or silica carries increased risk.
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Want To Get More Involved With Patient Advocacy
The 50-State Network is the grassroots advocacy arm of CreakyJoints and the Global Healthy Living Foundation, comprised of patients with chronic illness who are trained as health care activists to proactively connect with local, state, and federal health policy stakeholders to share their perspective and influence change. If you want to effect change and make health care more affordable and accessible to patients with chronic illness, learn more here.
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What Do I Do If I Think I Have Rheumatoid Arthritis
If youre experiencing joint pain and inflammation, its important that you discuss your symptoms with your doctor. Getting a diagnosis as soon as possible means that treatment can start quickly. Early treatment will help you to control the inflammation, manage pain more effectively and minimise the risk of long-term joint damage and disability.
If youre diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis or suspected of having the condition, you may be referred to a medical specialist known as a rheumatologist for further investigations and medical treatment.
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What Is ‘sudden Arthritis’ Exactly
The term sudden arthritis refers to inflammation and swelling in the joints with a quick onset, Nicole M. Cotter, MD, a physician board-certified in rheumatology and integrative medicine at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center, tells LIVESTRONG.com.
According to the CDC, the primary symptoms of arthritis in general are:
- Redness andstiffness in the joints
Some additional symptoms, such as fever and fatigue, can also occur with arthritis.
There are a few possible explanations when the condition seems to appear out of the blue.
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.
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Medications To Manage Symptoms
Some drugs can help to relieve symptoms and slow disease progression.
- high blood pressure
- kidney and liver problems
Corticosteroids reduce pain and inflammation and may help slow joint damage, but they cannot cure RA. If NSAIDs do not work, a doctor may inject a steroid into the joint. Relief is usually rapid, but the effect is variable. It can last a few weeks or months, depending on the severity of symptoms.
Corticosteroids can help with acute symptoms or short-term flareups. However, a doctor will limit these injections to no more than three times per year because of their impact on the soft tissue structures in the joints. More frequent injections can potentially damage these structures or cause them to tear off where they attach to the bone.
Dietary Modifications To Consider For Rheumatoid Arthritis
While there is a lot of interest in the role of diet and nutrition in symptom management for rheumatoid arthritis, there is no comprehensive research on the topic nor is there a dietary magic formula to fight RA symptoms.
But some evidence suggests that eating certain foods may help reduce inflammation and improve symptoms for some people, while other foods have been shown to worsen inflammation and related symptoms.
For instance, the ketogenic diet which is high in fats that promote inflammation and low in certain healthy grains, fruits, and vegetables that help fight inflammation is generally believed to be bad for RA symptoms and pain.
Frontiers in Nutrition,
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Reasons To Avoid Sugar If You Have Rheumatoid Arthritis
Some people with rheumatoid arthritis choose to limit or eliminate certain foods from their diets to reduce inflammation. One ingredient that your health care provider may recommend you avoid when living with inflammatory arthritis is sugar. From aggravating RA symptoms and inflammation to increasing your risk for other complications or health issues, too much sugar or sugar substitutes can make life with RA even more difficult.
Here are three reasons why you should consider limiting your sugar intake as part of your RA care plan. As always, ask your rheumatologist or a health care provider for medical advice before making dietary changes. They can advise you on the best way to do so or refer you to a specialist, such as a registered dietitian, for further guidance.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Vs Osteoarthritis
RA is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the joints, leading to pain, stiffness, and swelling. Osteoarthritis leads to many of the same symptoms as RA but is due to normal wear and tear of the joints.
While RA usually affects the same joints on both sides of the body, osteoarthritis may only affect one side.
Although other symptoms can help a person figure out if theyre experiencing RA or osteoarthritis, only a doctor can diagnose these conditions.
- employment difficulties
There is also a higher risk of developing various other conditions, including:
- carpal tunnel syndrome, which can cause aching, numbness, and tingling in the fingers, thumb, and part of the hand
- inflammation, which can affect the lungs, heart, blood vessels, eyes, and other parts of the body
- cervical myelopathy, due to inflammation and destruction of synovial tissue in the cervical spine
- vasculitis, or inflammation of the blood vessels, which can affect blood flow to tissues and affect organ function
Damage can occur in tendons near the joints. Susceptibility to infections also may increase, and a person has an increased risk of developing colds, flu, pneumonia, COVID-19, and other diseases, especially if they are taking immunosuppressant medications to manage RA.
It may be difficult for a doctor to diagnose RA in its early stages, as it can resemble other conditions.
They also may recommend some tests, including:
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Medication For Rheumatoid Arthritis
Some of the medications you may take include:
- pain relievers , such as paracetamol, for temporary pain relief
- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications , such as ibuprofen, to control inflammation and provide pain relief
- corticosteroids, such as prednisolone, to quickly control or reduce inflammation
- disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs , such as methotrexate, to control your overactive immune system
- biological and biosimilar medicines , such as infliximab these are biological disease-modifying drugs that work to control your immune system, but in a much more targeted way.
Depending on your particular symptoms, and how much pain and inflammation you have, you may take one medication or a combination of different medications.
Who Treats Rheumatoid Arthritis
Diagnosing and treating rheumatoid arthritis requires a team effort involving you and several types of health care professionals. These may include:
- Rheumatologists, who specialize in arthritis and other diseases of the bones, joints, and muscles.
- Primary care providers, such as internists, who specialize in the diagnosis and medical treatment of adults.
- Orthopaedists, who specialize in the treatment of and surgery for bone and joint diseases or injuries.
- Physical therapists, who help to improve joint function.
- Occupational therapists, who teach ways to protect joints, minimize pain, perform activities of daily living, and conserve energy.
- Dietitians, who teach ways to eat a good diet to improve health and maintain a healthy weight.
- Nurse educators, who specialize in helping people understand their overall condition and set up their treatment plans.
- Mental health professionals, who help people cope with difficulties in the home and workplace that may result from their medical conditions.
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Causes And Risk Factors Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
RA develops when white blood cells, which normally protect the body from foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses, enter the synovium . Inflammation ensues the synovium thickens, causing swelling, redness, warmth, and pain in the synovial joint.
Researchers don’t know exactly what causes the immune system to invade the synovium, but it’s believed that genes and environmental factors play a role in the development of RA.
But not everyone with these identified gene variants develops RA, and people without them can still develop it. So, it’s likely that environmental factors often trigger the disease, particularly in people with a genetic makeup that makes them more susceptible to it. These factors include:
- Viruses and bacteria
- Female hormones
- Obesity, which also increases progression of disability for people with RA.Obese patients are less likely to achieve RA remission regardless of the treatment they receive.
- Severely stressful events
Children up to age 16 who experience prolonged swollen or painful joints anywhere in the body are typically diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis .
Why Do My Joints Make Sounds
Joints are normally lubricated with fluids and contain cartilage allowing for smooth movement.1There are many reasons for joints to make noises. Some are serious and some are completely harmless.
Sometimes soft tissues like tendons and ligaments glide across bones. This is common in the neck.2 My neck, both before and after vertebral fusion surgery, cracks and crunches every time it moves. My physical therapist said that many peoples necks make these innocuous sounds.
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Not Sticking To Treatment
After you are diagnosed with RA, your doctor will recommend a course of treatment to help manage RA symptoms and disease activity. If you fail to follow the treatment regimen by not filling prescriptions, not taking medication as directed, not exercising, or skipping appointments there is an increased risk of worsening symptoms and disease activity. Thats the case even when its unintentional, such as when you forget.
While your reasons for not following your treatment plan may be entirely valid, it is your responsibility to discuss those reasons with your doctor before you make changes to the prescribed regimen. You could benefit from a medication change or the addition of a treatment. Be sure to have that conversation with your doctor and decide on your next move together.
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
What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis
Arthritis is a general term for inflammation in joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of chronic arthritis that occurs in joints on both sides of the body , which helps distinguish it from other types of arthritis.
In addition to affecting the joints, rheumatoid arthritis may occasionally affect other parts of the body, including the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, blood, nerves, or kidneys.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, meaning that patients immune system is overreacting against itself. The result can cause some or all of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
Everything You Want To Know About Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that can cause joint pain, inflammation, and damage throughout your body.
The joint damage that RA causes usually happens on both sides of the body.
So, if a joint is affected in one of your arms or legs, the same joint in the other arm or leg will probably be affected, too. This is one way that doctors distinguish RA from other forms of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis .
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Rheumatoid Awareness Day Isnt Even A Decade Old Yet
The Rheumatoid Patient Foundation founded Rheumatoid Awareness Day in 2013, marking February 2 of each year to raise awareness for this serious systemic disease and to smash the misconceptions behind it.
Of course, when you live with RA, one day on the calendar is just that: one day. RA lasts a lifetime once symptoms start, even with treatment. But still, its an opportunity for advocates like me to share about these common misconceptions. It will take a lot of voices for everyone to recognize that RA is a serious disease.
Essentials Of Applying For Social Security Disability
Winning Social Security disability benefits requires you to show a combination of medical records, work history, and education history that make it clear you cant work and deserve financial assistance.
These are the essential points you must prove:
- Your health problems are too bad for you to function in your previous job.
- You couldnt switch to another, less strenuous job either.
- Your condition will last at least a year, or eventually lead to death.
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Common Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms
Symptoms experienced by rheumatoid arthritis patients are a direct result of the inflammation of joint tissue and/or accumulation of synovial fluid caused by this autoimmune disorder.
An autoimmune disorder is a disease in which the bodys immune system attacks healthy tissue, mistaking it for foreign or damaged tissue. Though there are many types of autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis is one that afflicts roughly 1.5 million Americans.
Symptoms of RA can range from mild to debilitating, and every level in between. However, there are some common overall symptoms to be aware of should you suspect that you or someone you know is suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
Below are the most commonly reported rheumatoid arthritis symptoms:
When To See A Doctor
Theres no single test that determines whether you have RA. Your doctor may run several tests to help confirm a RA diagnosis. These tests include:
- checking your blood for specific antibodies such as rheumatoid factor or anti-CCP antibody
- taking samples of synovial fluid to look for inflammation or infection
- looking for inflammation
- ordering imaging tests to look at your joints and bones or evidence of inflammation or joint damage
Sometimes, X-rays are ineffective in diagnosing the disease. An MRI or ultrasound can show abnormalities in your joints before X-ray changes appear.
Dont be afraid to get a second opinion if youre still experiencing discomfort from your condition. A doctor can prescribe new medications if the ones youre taking arent working.
RA usually appears in people between the ages of 25 and 50. If you arent in this age range, you should still see a doctor if you think youre experiencing symptoms of RA. In the case of RA, the earlier you receive your treatment, the better your outcome is.
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