Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis and Managing the Pain
Apr 15, 2021
Rheumatoid arthritus is a chronic inflammatory disorder affecting the joints, including those in the hands and feet, when the body’s immune system attacks its own tissue. In severe cases, it can attack internal organs. It typically affects joint linings, causing painful swelling. Over long periods of time, the inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis can cause bone erosion and joint deformity.
While there is currently no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, physiotherapy and medications help slow the disease’s progression. Most cases can be managed by getting a referral to a rheumatoid arthritis doctor and with anti-rheumatic drugs. A few things to know about managing rheumatoid arthritis are:
- Treatment can help, but this condition can’t be cured
- Requires a medical diagnosis
- Lab tests or imaging always required
- It is a chronic condition: it can last for years or be lifelong
- Specialist are called rheumatologists
- There are many Wichita rheumatoid arthritis specialists
Rheumatoid Arthritis Causes or Risk Factors
There are several things that may increase your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, such as your genes, hormones, and habits.
There’s some evidence that rheumatoid arthritis can run in families, being passed down through generations. However, the risk of inheriting the condition is thought to be low as genes are only thought to play a small role.
Rheumatoid arthritis is more common in women than men, which is thought to be the effects of the hormone estrogen. There is research currently taking place regarding this theory,
Evidence suggests that people who smoke have an increased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Smoking has been linked to many conditions and concerns, the best practice it to cease smoking as soon as possible.
Symptoms of Rhematoid Athritis
Rheumatoid arthritis mainly affects the joints. It can cause problems in any joint in the body, although the small joints in the hands and feet are often the first to be affected.
Rheumatoid arthritis typically affects the joints symmetrically — both sides of the body at the same time and to the same extent. However, this is not always the case.
Signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may include:
The joint pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis is usually described as a throbbing and aching pain. It is often worse in the mornings and after a period of inactivity.
Joints affected by rheumatoid arthritis are often described as feeling stiff. For example, if your hands are affected, you may not be able to fully bend your fingers or form a fist. Like joint pain, the stiffness is often worse in the morning or after a period of inactivity. Morning stiffness may be a sign of another type of arthritis, called osteoarthritis. This type of arthritis usually wears off within 30 minutes of getting up in the morning while stiffness in rheumatoid arthritis often lasts longer throughout the day.
Swelling, Warmth and Redness
The lining of joints affected by rheumatoid arthritis become inflamed, which causes the joints to swell, and become hot and tender to touch. In some people, firm swellings (called rheumatoid nodules) can also develop under the skin around affected joints.
As well as problems affecting the joints, some people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis have more general symptoms, such as:
- Tiredness and lack of energy
- A high temperature
- Poor appetite
- Sudden weight loss
Inflammation from rheumatoid arthritis can also sometimes cause problems in other areas of the body, such as dry eyes and chest pain (if the heart or lungs are affected).
Diagnosing and Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis can be difficult to diagnose because many conditions cause joint stiffness and inflammation. As well, there is no definitive test for the condition. If you symptoms, see your doctor or medical provider so they can work to determine the cause.
Your doctor or medical provider will do a physical examination, checking your joints for any swelling and to assess how easily they move. The doctor or provider will also ask you about your symptoms and when you began noticing them. It’s important to tell your doctor or medical provider about all your symptoms, not just ones you think are important, as this will help them make the correct diagnosis.
If your doctor or medical provider believes you have rheumatoid arthritis, they will refer you to a specialist called a rheumatologist. If you think you or a loved one are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, schedule a rheumatoid arthritis screening today with a member of our medical team.
Treatments for rheumatoid arthritis can help reduce inflammation in the joints, relieve pain, prevent or slow down joint damage, reduce disability and enable you to be as active as possible. Scheduling a screening early can start treatment early, leading to a happier and healthier lifestyle.
Although there’s no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, early treatment and support can reduce the risk of joint damage and thus limit the impact of this condition. Treatments include medicine, lifestyle changes, supportive treatments and surgery. Your treatment will usually involve care from your medical provider and several different specialists.
There are medicines available to help stop rheumatoid arthritis from getting worse and reduce your risk of further
problems. These are often divided into main 2 types: disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biological
treatments. HealthCore Clinic has an onsite pharmacy that can greatly reduce the cost of these medications through the 340B drug program.
Tips for Managing Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain
Taking care of yourself and staying ahead of the disease is a big part of rheumatoid arthritis treatment. Always take your medicine as directed, try not to skip a dose, tell your doctor or medical provider about any side effects, and talk to your pharmacist if you have questions.
Even when your pain and stiffness is less of a problem, it is important to continue with your medical appointments and medications. Check in with your doctor or medical provider numerous times in a year. If you don’t already see a rheumatologist, consider asking for a referral. A rheumatologist is a doctor who specializes in arthritis. They can review your treatment plan and make changes to meet your specific needs. Studies show that people with rheumatoid arthritis who see a rheumatologist several times a year experience less pain.
When you have joint pain and stiffness, you may not want to move around because it is painful and uncomfortable. However, you should try to stay as active as possible. Staying active helps ease your symptoms and prevent long-term problems. Exercise for rheumatoid arthritis usually includes:
- Stretching. Stretch when starting physical activities to warm up. Stretch when you’re done to cool down.
- Low-impact aerobic exercise. These are exercises that keep your heart strong without hurting your joints. Walking, riding a bike, and swimming are great low-impact choices for people with rheumatoid arthritis. You may also try a machine like a stationary bike or treadmill.
- Strengthening. These exercises help keep your muscles strong to support your joints. You might use resistance bands or light weights that gently strengthen your muscles without adding too much stress on the joints.
Slow, gentle, flowing exercises like Pilates, tai chi, and yoga can help boost your balance and flexibility and ease your pain. Research shows that yoga poses, breathing, and relaxation lower joint tenderness and swelling for some people with rheumatoid arthritis. Studies also show that tai chi reduces long-term pain while pilates can make the core of your body stronger, taking pressure off your joints.
Diet and Eating Habits
Although there have been many studies about diet and rheumatoid arthritis, there’s no definitive proof that a special diet helps. However, it’s always smart to eat a balanced, healthy diet. A healthy diet helps fight inflammation and can reduce stress on your joints.
A diet full of fish like salmon, trout, tuna, and sardines are full of omega-3 fatty acids that reduce chemicals called cytokines, which otherwise increase inflammation. Studies show that omega-3s may ease joint pain and shorten the time you have stiffness in the morning.
A healthy diet needs colorful fruits and veggies, which have antioxidants and support a healthy body. Whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice, and barley are also recommended. People who eat whole grains tend to have lower levels of inflammation due to specific proteins.
Avoid saturated fat, cholesterol, and sugars. These are bad for your body and can increase inflamation, reduce strnegth, and add stress to your joints.
Lower Stress Levels
Dealing with rheumatoid arthritis can be stressful, but there are many ways you can lower your stress level:
- Talk with your doctor or medical provider about counseling or have other ideas you haven’t thought of.
- Take time to rest during the day. A balance of activity and rest is important.
- Try to relax using simple deep breathing techniques to make you feel mentally better.
- Learn and use special techniques like yoga and meditation to help you relax.
- Ask for help and support from friends, family, and co-workers.
Consider joining a class or support group. There may be arthritis programs in your area or online where you can connect with others who have rheumatoid arthritis.
How To Find The Best Rheumatologist In Wichita
Who is the best rheumatoid arthritis specialist in Wichita? There is no answer to “Who is the best rheumatologist in Wichita KS?” The best Wichita rheumatologist is whoever you connect with and is the best rheumatologist for you. Start by speaking with your doctor or medical provider, they can make suggestions and referrals. You should also talk with friends and family members to see if they have recommendations.
If you are asking yourself about how to deal with rheumatoid arthritis naturally, you absolutely can. However, it is recommended to meet with a rheumatologist first and discuss managing rheumatoid arthritis and how to deal with rheumatoid arthritis flare up.