While rheumatoid arthritis is always associated to old age and joint pain, there is more to it than meets the eye. The difference between this disease with other forms of arthritis is that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder. Because it is autoimmune, the body fights itself by attacking its tissues which causes inflammation. Neither should this be associated with age, because anybody is susceptible. Unfortunately, there is no cure but there are things that can be done to prevent further discomfort.
What are the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Although its symptoms are quite inconsistent, when they happen – they happen intensely.
1] Joint Inflammation
2] Carpal Tunnel
3] Joint Stiffness
5] Slow-healing Injuries
6] Weight Loss
An estimation of 40% of those with RA also suffer from pain beyond their joints. These areas could be the kidneys, nerve tissue, eyes, bone marrow and salivary glands.
What are the causes of this disease?
Rheumatoid arthritis happens when the body’s own immune system internally attacks the lining of the membranes surrounding the joints, otherwise known as the synovium. While the exact cause of this autoimmune disorder has not yet been discovered, there are some factors can further increase the risk of getting it.
1] Genetics – If any other family members have RA, there are high chances it will be passed on to others.
2] Gender – RA attacks more women.
3] Others – Smoking, obesity and exposure to asbestos or silica
The treatments of rheumatoid arthritis can lead to other diseases such as:
1] Osteoporosis – bones will get weaker and more prone to fracturing
2] Greater risk of infections
3] Rheumatoid nodules – firm lumps of tissue that are likely found on pressure points
4] Sjogren’s syndrome – decrease in moisture found in the eyes and mouth
5] Heart problems
6] Lung disease
7] Abnormal body composition – the development of higher fat percentage to lean muscle, despite of have a normal body mass index (BMI)
8] Lymphoma – a type of cancer in the lymph system
What are the preventative measures?
1] While it won’t be easy, exercising even when in pain will strengthen all joints. As long as the exercise being done is low impact, the benefits will be massive in the long run. Stretching everyday will also create a huge impact by widening the joints’ range of motion.
2] There are no foods that will make rheumatoid arthritis disappear, but there are those that can further increase inflammation which should be avoided. Canned goods and processed food are filled with sodium which raises blood pressure. Avoiding excess salt will be best, so buying fresh is always the answer. Add anti-inflammatory food in your daily intake like fish, nuts, berries, olive oil, seeds and fiber. Take vitamins B and D, magnesium, folic acid, calcium, selenium and zinc.
3] Take the time to relax and manage your stress levels. Since stress releases cortisol, this creates more inflammation.
If these preventative measures don’t give relief, it is best to get treatment with a professional as soon as possible.
While steroids like prednisone are known for fighting inflammation, they can have harmful side effects like weight gain, insomnia and weak bones.
Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are FDA approved and used to protect joints from even further damage, although they are also known to affect red and white blood cells and cause liver damage.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are great for preventing inflammation but they do not protect joints from being damage. These drugs include ibuprofen and naproxen which are found in medicines like Advil, Motrin and Aleve.
Always consult your doctor before taking these medications especially if you have pre-existing conditions like kidney or heart failure.