Arthritis Pain Or Muscle Pain: How To Tell The Difference
As a Good Samaritan, you helped your neighbour who was moving his couch up to the third floor. The result: your back is throbbing with pain.
Most active people sometimes come up against a few obstacles that can temporarily affect their ability to move and require taking pain medication. A wrong move, a fall or an injury are a few events that can be a source of muscle pain or inflammation. When these events occur, it seems a lot of us line up to read the dizzying selection of product packages on display in the analgesics and anti-inflammatory section at the pharmacy. Faced with such a wide choice of products, it is normal to get confused, especially when we are not exactly certain just what kind of pain is bothering us.
Reason : Your Brain Is On Overdrive
For patients new to RA, there can be a lot of emotions tied to the initial diagnosis. First, theres the overwhelming nature of this disease, which can have so many painful and scary physical effects. Then theres the realization that this is a long-term condition, which Dr. Greer says can weigh heavily on the minds of patients. While a rheumatologist will be the principal provider for RA care, there are times when a specialistperhaps a psychologist or psychiatristshould be consulted to ensure well-rounded care.
Multiple Factors Associated With Fatigue In Rheumatoid Arthritis
Fatigue is a common symptom in patients with rheumatoidarthritis and contributes to the cost of clinical care, reasons for primarycare consultation, and even loss of employment. Patients with rheumatoidarthritis report rates of fatigue that are 4 to 8 times higher than the generalpopulation.1 In a review of current studies, however, fatigue is apoorly understood and poorly managed symptom.
While specific studies designed to investigate disease activity or the inflammatory biomarkers related to fatigue in rheumatoid arthritis are few, prognosis is generally limited to factors of pain, mental health, disability, and sleep. These general factors consistently drive outcomes of fatigue, and along with other disease-specific processes, warrant a closer look in elucidating the mechanism of fatigue. The ability to comprehensively and robustly understand the mechanism of fatigue in rheumatoid arthritis can provide insight into optimal treatment approaches, which may further benefit a number of other chronic diseases.
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When The Fingers Are Abnormally Bent
Some disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, and injuries can cause the fingers to bend abnormally. In swan-neck deformity, the joint at the base of the finger bends in , the middle joint straightens out , and the outermost joint bends in . In boutonnière deformity, the middle finger joint is bent inward , and the outermost finger joint is bent outward .
Swollen wrists can pinch a nerve and result in numbness or tingling due to carpal tunnel syndrome Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful compression of the median nerve as it passes through the carpal tunnel in the wrist. The cause of most cases of carpal tunnel syndrome is unknown… read more .
Cysts, which may develop behind affected knees, can rupture, causing pain and swelling in the lower legs. Up to 30% of people with rheumatoid arthritis have hard bumps just under the skin , usually near sites of pressure .
Examination of joint fluid
In addition to the important characteristic pattern of symptoms, doctors follow established criteria when evaluating a person for rheumatoid arthritis. Doctors suspect people have rheumatoid arthritis if they have more than one joint with definite swelling of the joint’s lining that is not caused by another disorder. Doctors diagnose people with rheumatoid arthritis if they have certain combinations of the following criteria:
What Happens In A Joint Affected By Rheumatoid Arthritis
If you have rheumatoid arthritis, your immune system can cause inflammation inside a joint or a number of joints. Inflammation is normally an important part of how your immune system works. It allows the body to send extra fluid and blood to a part of the body under attack from an infection. For example, if you have a cut that gets infected, the skin around it can become swollen and a different colour.
However, in the case of rheumatoid arthritis, this inflammation in the joint is unnecessary and causes problems.
When the inflammation goes down, the capsule around the synovium remains stretched and cant hold the joint in its proper position. This can cause the joint to become unstable and move into unusual positions.
The following can play a part in why someone has rheumatoid arthritis:
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Reason : Its A Byproduct Of Ra
Eighty percent of RA patients experience significant fatigue. The reason: RA causes the body to make inflammatory proteins, called Tumor Necrosis Factor, or TNF, and weve known for a very long time that they cause fatigue,, says Jonathan M. Greer, M.D., a rheumatology and internal medicine specialist in Palm Beach County, FL, and assistant clinical professor of medicine at both Nova Southeastern University and the University of Miami. But that doesnt mean all is lost. A Rheumatology study found that patients receiving anti-TNF therapies experienced clinically important improvements in RA-related fatigue.
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What Medications Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis
Early treatment with certain drugs can improve your long-term outcome. Combinations of drugs may be more effective than, and appear to be as safe as, single-drug therapy.
There are many medications to decrease joint pain, swelling and inflammation, and to prevent or slow down the disease. Medications that treat rheumatoid arthritis include:
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
Biologics tend to work rapidly within two to six weeks. Your provider may prescribe them alone or in combination with a DMARD like methotrexate.
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Rheumatoid Arthritis: Living And Dealing With Fatigue
People with rheumatoid arthritis typically have several permanently inflamed joints. The inflammation inside the body can lead to general physical weakness, drowsiness and exhaustion. This feeling of extreme tiredness is also called . Some people find this to be the worst symptom of the disease.
Other typical symptoms are joint pain and swelling, and also joint stiffness and physical weakness later on. Non-specific symptoms like exhaustion often start earlier on in the disease. But the symptoms and course of rheumatoid arthritis can vary greatly. People also deal with the disease in different ways. Although people experience their symptoms differently and cope with the disease in different ways, there are some things that many people with rheumatoid arthritis have in common.
Arthritis With Involvement Of The Connective Tissues
Connective tissues include tendons, ligaments and cartilages. When someone suffers from arthritis, it is possible that the inflammatory process extends and affects the connective tissues as well.
In such situations, the leg pain becomes more severe and the overall functionality is severely reduced.
As opposed to other types of arthritis, this type is progressive the inflammation becomes worse with the passing of time and it can affect not only the connective tissues and joints but also the muscles, skin and vital organs, such as the lungs and the kidneys.
Examples of such medical conditions include systemic sclerosis, SLE and dermatomyositis.
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Rheumatoid Arthritis Vs Osteoarthritis
Many people confuse rheumatoid arthritis with osteoarthritis due to their similar symptoms, but the two diseases are caused by different factors.
What is Osteoarthritis?
Whereas rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes joint malfunction due to inflammation, osteoarthritis is a mechanical disease brought on by the destruction of joints through wear and tear.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, with approximately 27 million Americans over the age of 25 having been diagnosed with it. Osteoarthritis is also most commonly seen in people middle-aged to elderly and is the top cause of disability in those age groups, though it can also appear in younger people who have sustained joint injuries.
With osteoarthritis, the cartilage, joint lining, ligaments, and bone are all affected by deterioration and inflammation. When the cartilage begins to break down due to stress or changes in the body, the surrounding bones slowly get bigger and begin to fail.
Osteoarthritis is a slowly progressing disease and occurs in the joints of the hand, spine, hips, knees, and toes. Furthermore, risk factors of this disease most often stem from lifestyle or biological causes, such as:
Osteoarthritis sometimes occurs alongside rheumatoid arthritis or other disease, such as gout.
Hand Joints Are Synovial Joints
The small joints of the hands are an example of synovial joints. Rheumatoid arthritis attacks synovial joints.
- Each synovial joint is encapsulated in a pliable membrane, called a synovial membrane or synovium. When the joint is healthy, this membrane is very thinâjust one or two cells thick.
- The joint capsule contains synovial fluid. This fluid is produced by the membrane. It is thin, clear, and viscous, and it normally nourishes and lubricates the joint, enabling movement.
Synovial joints in the hand are quite small and normally contain just a tiny amount of synovial fluid.
When rheumatoid arthritis occurs, the immune system attacks a synovial jointâs delicate membrane. The affected finger, thumb, and/or wrist joints can become inflamed, swollen, and painful.
The disease process involves these 5 steps:
Changes can also occur in the handâs tendons.
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What’s New In Arthritis Research
Progress is so fast in some areas of arthritis research today that the media often report new findings before the medical journal with the information reaches your doctor’s office. As a result, you need to know how to evaluate reports on new arthritis research.
Arthritis researchers are looking at four broad areas of research. These include causes, treatments, education and prevention.
Researchers are learning more about certain conditions. For example in osteoarthritis, researchers are looking for signs of early destruction of cartilage and ways to rebuild it. For rheumatoid arthritis and other types that involve inflammation, researchers are trying to understand the steps that lead to inflammation and how it can be slowed or stopped. An initial study suggests that fibromyalgia affects more older people than originally thought and often may be overlooked in this group. Your doctor can tell you about other new research findings. If you would like to take part in arthritis research, ask your doctor for a referral to a study in your area.
Many people help make arthritis research possible. The federal government through its National Institutes of Health is the largest supporter of arthritis research. Drug companies do the most research on new medications.
Osteoarthritis Of The Spine
The bones in your spine are separated by spongy discs, which act as shock absorbers. With age, these discs can wear or shrink, which narrows the space between the spinal joints, or facet joints. The facet joints are a series of small joints in the lower back that contain the same type of cartilage that is found in your knees, explains Louw. Disc changes can lead to more strain on the joints, which can cause the cartilage to wear down and the facet joints in the vertebrae to rub against one another, leading to the pain and stiffness of OA. It is not uncommon for these joints to refer pain into the buttocks, especially with prolonged standing or even walking, says Louw.
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Just Because You Have Rheumatoid Arthritis Doesnt Mean That Your Pain Is Necessarily *from* Rheumatoid Arthritis These Co
Tracking your RA pain can help you better understand your condition and talk about it with your doctor. Join ArthritisPower, a patient-centered research registry, to learn more about your RA. .
Inflammation is the root cause of rheumatoid arthritis pain but its certainly not the only cause. In fact, many people with RA experience joint pain without swelling and other types of pain, in spite of having low levels of inflammation, few affected joints, and low disease activity.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, inflammatory autoimmune disorder in which the bodys own immune system attacks the lining of the membranes that surround the joints . It often causes pain, stiffness, and swelling of multiple joints on both sides of the body.
However, it is possible to have RA and experience pain for other reasons at the same time.
If a rheumatologist and RA patient have a mutual understanding that the rheumatoid arthritis is in remission, then we need to explore why the patient is still having pain, says Elizabeth Schulman, MD, a rheumatologist at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.
Although figuring out the root cause of pain can feel like a guessing game if its not RA, what else could it be? there are several other common conditions that should be considered.
Here is a look at some common co-occurring conditions that you may mistake for RA pain, along with what you can expect if RA isnt the only medical issue youre trying to treat.
Whats The Age Of Onset For Rheumatoid Arthritis
RA usually starts to develop between the ages of 30 and 60. But anyone can develop rheumatoid arthritis. In children and young adults usually between the ages of 16 and 40 its called young-onset rheumatoid arthritis . In people who develop symptoms after they turn 60, its called later-onset rheumatoid arthritis .
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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.
Helping People Around You Understand Fatigue
Fatigue is a major symptom of many conditions, such as arthritis often its as much of a problem as pain and inflammation. But its an invisible symptom and a lot of people avoid talking about it because they think their family, friends and colleagues wont understand.
It can be stressful if you think people around you dont understand how youre feeling. Even when you explain, some people may struggle to realise how fatigue affects you and that it stops you doing certain activities. This can be frustrating and tiring and can put a big strain on your relationships. Getting help, support and understanding from the people around you can make a huge difference.
Good communication and explaining clearly and calmly how fatigue affects you is important to help others understand.
Its ok to say that you need help with tasks around the home.
Learning to say you cant do something or go somewhere because of the way it will affect you can help. It may also reassure people that sometimes you just dont feel up to socialising and its no reflection on their company.
If people ask for your help with something, remember its ok to say no. Its ok to put yourself first.
If you find it difficult to talk about your fatigue, you could ask people to read this information.
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Risk Factors For Arthritis
Certain risk factors have been associated with arthritis. Some of these are modifiable while others are not.
Non-modifiable arthritis risk factors:
- Age: the risk of developing most types of arthritis increases with age.
- Sex: most types of arthritis are more common in females, and 60 percent of all people with arthritis are female. Gout is more common in males than females.
- Genetic factors: specific genes are associated with a higher risk of certain types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis , systemic lupus erythematosus and ankylosing spondylitis.
Modifiable arthritis risk factors:
- Overweight and obesity: excess weight can contribute to both the onset and progression of knee osteoarthritis.
- Joint injuries: damage to a joint can contribute to the development of osteoarthritis in that joint.
- Infection: many microbial agents can infect joints and trigger the development of various forms of arthritis.
- Occupation: certain occupations that involve repetitive knee bending and squatting are associated with osteoarthritis of the knee.
More than half of adults in the U.S. with arthritis report high blood pressure. High blood pressure is associated with heart disease, the most common comorbidity among adults with arthritis.
Around 1 in 5 of adults in the U.S. who have arthritis are smokers. Smoking is associated with chronic respiratory conditions, the second most common comorbidity among adults with arthritis.
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.
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