6 things you should know about rheumatoid arthritis
1. RA points to the joints
Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition that targets many joints of the body, particularly those of the hands, knees and feet. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, it rarely addresses a single joint, which means that people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis in one part of the body often also feel it in a completely different part of the body.
Having said that, not all people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis are paralyzed by this condition. People with mild rheumatoid arthritis may have occasional outbreaks of pain that can be overcome with over-the-counter pain medications, such as Aleve. However, those who suffer from moderate or extreme versions of the disease will have more symptoms, such as feeling regularly sick and tired or even having a fever.
2. Anyone can develop RA
In general, significant joint pain is associated with elderly people, such as people in their post-retirement years. However, rheumatoid arthritis does not discriminate according to age. In fact, anyone can suffer from this condition, including children and young adults.
That said, the CDC research notes that rheumatoid arthritis is more prevalent in older and middle-aged people. It is also slightly more frequent in women than in men. However, the possibility that they have rheumatoid arthritis according to their age or gender should not be ruled out. If you think you may be suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, talk to your doctor as soon as possible.
3. RA continues to Stump doctors
Rheumatoid arthritis can be one of the most common conditions that continues to confuse physicians and other medical experts around the world. To this day, no one has clearly determined exactly what causes rheumatoid arthritis. What we do know is that the condition arises when the immune system of an individual begins to attack the tissues of their own body, particularly those around the joints. However, experts still do not know what causes the body to do this to itself.
That said, experts do know that there are a number of factors that influence the chances of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Genetics plays an important role, which means that you can be vulnerable if someone in your family suffers from the disease. Doctors also believe that the environment and hormones can also be factors.
4. A diagnosis is a complex issue
Many health conditions are relatively easy to diagnose and only require a sample of some body fluids (such as saliva, urine or blood). But rheumatoid arthritis is not one of those conditions: in fact, it can be downright difficult to diagnose and may require several extended visits to some different types of specialists.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there is no single test that can positively identify rheumatoid arthritis in an individual. Another problem is that the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are similar to those seen with other types of joint diseases. On top of that, the full symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can take a long time to develop, maybe even in a few years. That's why doctors look at a variety of factors, from medical history to genes, physical examination and X-rays, to make a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis.
5. There are many ways to treat RA
There is no single way to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Like many other painful health conditions, there are several approaches to relieve pain, reduce swelling around the joints and help patients lead a normal life.
The first step is to educate the patient about the disease through self-management programs and support groups. The next steps include showing the patient how various physical exercises can help strengthen the muscles around the joints and help reduce inflammation and pain. Doctors can also prescribe anti-inflammatory medications designed to reduce pain and help people control the disease.
6. Diet and exercise can help
Those who are diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis will be encouraged to control their weight, exercise regularly and follow a healthy diet. That's because being in good shape can help reduce the amount of weight placed on the joints, which limits the inflammation and pain that accompanies rheumatoid arthritis.
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