Health & Lifestyle

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Early Signs, Symptoms & Treatment

Rheumatoid arthritis

What is Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis or RA is a long-term systemic autoimmune inflammatory disorder of the joints. The problem or situation starts insidiously with nonspecific pains and aches in the musculoskeletal system of the body that come-and-go. The symptoms of RA develop over a period of time maybe in weeks or even months when actual joint inflammations become noticeable along with growing stiffness and pains. A Top Rheumatologist said, "About 1 in 100 people could be suffering from Rheumatoid arthritis in the society. The condition generally occurs in people between the age group of 20 to 60 years."

He said, “Rheumatoid arthritis usually affects small and large joints in the arms as well as legs in a proportioned distribution. This is contrary to the other very common joint disease called known as osteoarthritis faced by elderly people. This problem starts at a later age and most commonly affects one knee at a time and influences the other knee after some time. RA is five times more common in females than males."

The exact cause of Rheumatoid arthritis is yet to be known. But, it is well understood that the synovial tissue of the joints become swollen because of an autoimmune response. The cause of the autoimmune response is multifactorial that includes certain genetic risk factors and numerous environmental factors like smoking and poor oro-dental cleanliness. There are many additional risk factors that add to the possibility of a poor healing outcome in RA. And these comprise obesity, imbalanced diet and lack of exercise. If you eat lots of fruits, green vegetables, and maintain a balanced high-fibre diet then it will help in controlling Rheumatoid arthritis.

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What are the Signs and Symptoms of Rheumatoid arthritis

Tiredness

A person may feel abnormally tired well before any other symptoms become apparent. Exhaustion can come before the beginning of other symptoms by weeks or months. It may also come and vanish from week to week or day to day. Tiredness is sometimes accompanied by a general feeling of ill health or even despair.

Morning stiffness

Morning stiffness is generally an early sign of rheumatoid arthritis. Rigidity that remains for a few minutes is usually an indication of a form of arthritis that can get worse over time without proper treatment. On the other hand, stiffness that remains for a longer time is a sign of inflammatory arthritis and is distinctive of RA. A person can also feel stiffness after prolonged inactivity period such as napping or sitting.

Joint stiffness

Stiffness in one or more of the smaller joints is a common and important symptom of rheumatoid arthritis. This can happen at any time of day, whether a person is active or not. Usually, stiffness starts in the joints of the hands. It generally comes on gradually, but it can also come abruptly and affect several joints over the course of one or two days.

Pain in Joint

Joint stiffness is normally followed by joint pain during any movement or while at rest. This equally affects both the sides of the body. In the early stage of rheumatoid arthritis, the most common areas of pain include the fingers and the wrists. A person can also suffer pain in the knees, ankles, feet or shoulders.

Fever

A low fever can also be an early symptom or sign that a person has RA. But, if they have fever higher than 100°F then it is more likely to be an indication of some other form of disease or an infection.

Joint inflammation

A gentle inflammation of the joints is typical early on symptoms of RA that will further make the joints look bigger than normal. This inflammation is generally associated with tenderness of the joints. Outbreaks can remain anywhere from 2-3 days to few weeks and this pattern may also increase with time. People can feel subsequent flare-ups in the same joints or in the other joints.

Numbness

Pressure on the nerves is created due to inflammation of tendons. This may cause tingling, numbness, or a burning sensation in the hands referred to as carpal tunnel disease. The joints of feet or hands can even produce a squeak or crackling sound as the injured cartilage crushes against joints when the person moves.

RA

Some other signs of rheumatoid arthritis are:

During the early stages of rheumatoid arthritis, a person may undergo a variety of symptoms like:

  • Weakness or a feeling of depression

  • Dry mouth

  • Itchiness, dryness or inflamed eyes

  • Discharge from the eyes

  • Difficulty in sleeping

  • Pain in the chest while breathing

  • Loss of hunger

  • Weight loss

Immediately consult your doctor for a proper diagnosis if you are experiencing any of the above mentioned early symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Treating rheumatoid arthritis (How to treat arthritis)

The main treatment goals with RA are to control swelling, relieve pain and decrease disability associated with the syndrome. Treatment generally comprises of medications, occupational or physical therapy, along with regular exercise. A few people have to undergo surgery to correct the joint damage. Early, forceful treatment is the key to good results. And with the present treatment options, joint damage can be slowed or even stopped in many cases.

There are many drugs like DMARDs and NSAIDs that helps in reducing the pain, slowing or stopping RA from getting worse.

Home remedies for rheumatoid arthritis

  • Do exercise on regular basis. You can go for gentle yoga

  • Give your body sufficient rest and sleep

  • Apply heat or cold (ice packs) to reduce inflammation and pain

  • Apart from all this try assistive devices like splints and braces that can hold your joints in a resting position.

Food for rheumatoid arthritis

Here is the list of foods that is considered good for people having RA.

  • Fatty fishes, like salmon, tuna

  • Walnuts

  • Chia seeds

  • Flax seeds

  • Berries, like blueberries, cranberries and strawberries

  • Dark chocolate

  • Spinach

  • Kidney beans

  • Soy products, like tofu and miso

  • Grapes

  • Green tea

  • Broccoli



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