Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a common disease that is long-term since there is no cure. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease can cause inflammation of the joints and tissues and also affect other organs. This disease can be very uncomfortable and painful. While it currently has no cure, the disease can be easily treated with a combination of medications and physical therapy. Even if you’re suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, hope is not loss and you can live a normal, healthy life with the disease.
Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis
The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is currently unknown and there don’t seem to be any significant risk factors. As an autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis is caused by the person’s immune system attacking their healthy tissue which weakens bones. Rheumatoid arthritis is more common among women and people who are middle age get it more often than someone younger or older. Some possible risk factors for rheumatoid arthritis include hormonal changes among older women, infections and genes.
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is gradual so the symptoms start slow and mild but gradually become worse without treatment. In the beginning, you will experience fatigue, stiffness and joint pain, all of which might be considered part of the natural aging process. In time, you will notice the symptoms get worse which indicates the disease. Some of the joint problems you might experience are stiffness in the morning for at least an hour and the feeling that your joints are tender and warm for at least an hour, a loss of range in motion of your joints, and joint pain felt on both sides of your body. Additional symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include chest pain when inhaling your breaths, dry eyes, dry mouth, numbness, burning and tingling in your hands or feet, difficulty sleeping, visible nodules under your skin, and itching or burning of your eyes.
Diagnosing Rheumatoid Arthritis
If you think you might have rheumatoid arthritis, a variety of tests will be performed to diagnose this disease. These include an Anti-CCP antibody test, Rheumatoid factor test, C-reactive protein, complete blood count, joint x-rays, joint MRI or ultrasound, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and a synovial fluid analysis.
Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis
The treatment plan for rheumatoid arthritis includes regular exercise, physical therapy, medications and maybe surgery to correct the joint issues. Medications commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis are in a classification of drugs called disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). These medications are often accompanied by physical therapy, strengthening exercises, plenty of rest, and anti-inflammatory medications. Many of the drugs used for rheumatoid arthritis have intense side effects, so natural remedies are often a preferred treatment option.