Rheumatoid Arthritis

What is it?

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder characterized by chronic inflammation that can affect more than just your joints. In some people, the condition can damage a wide variety of body systems, including the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, and blood vessels [https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rheumatoid-arthritis/symptoms-causes/syc-20353648]. Rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of your joints causing swelling that can lead to erosion of the bone and joint deformity.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms of this autoimmune disorder are:

1. Tender, warm, swollen joints

2. Joint stiffness that is usually worse in the mornings and after inactivity, and

3. Fatigue, fever, and loss of appetite

Other symptoms appear as the disease progresses. About 40% of people who have rheumatoid arthritis also experience signs and symptoms that don’t involve the joints. Areas that may be affected include:






Salivary glands

Nerve tissue

Bone marrow

Blood vessels [https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rheumatoid-arthritis/symptoms-causes/syc-20353648]

Researchers aren’t sure why people develop RA. They believe these individuals may have certain genes that are activated by a trigger in the environment, such as a virus or bacteria, physical or emotional stress, or some other external factor.[https://www.arthritis.org/diseases/rheumatoid-arthritis]

How is it treated?

The goals of RA treatment are to:

Stop inflammation or reduce it to the lowest possible level (put the disease in remission).

Relieve symptoms.

Prevent joint and organ damage.

Improve function and overall well-being.

Reduce long-term complications.

To do this your rheumatologist will prescribe medications to help with the symptoms and suggest lifestyle changes. These changes include eating well -balanced diet(often a more vegan type diet), smoking cessation(if you smoke), exercise, rest, stress reduction, keeping a positive attitude, having a support system, and mental health support. These changes are all important to the treatment of any disease.

What are some of the complications of rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis can cause many physical and social complications. People with rheumatoid arthritis causes pain and can cause disability and premature death. People with rheumatoid arthritis are at higher risk of developing premature heart disease and other chronic diseases, obesity from lack of activity, and unemployment.

What changes can I make to improve this condition?

Doctors recommend that you get physically active. They recommend that adults ideally get 150 minutes of physical activity at least 5 days a week. If you are unsure of what types of exercise are safe there are many community programs you can check out. Doctors also recommend eating a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, losing weight to take the excessive strain off of the joints, and stopping smoking to prevent worsening health issues.

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