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Rheumatoid Arthritis By Ashley Hayes

By at October 3, 2012 | 5:51 am | Print

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is long term, chronic inflammatory and autoimmune disease. It occurs when the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues, such as the small membrane lining the joints. This then causes a buildup of fluid in the joints becoming very painful. It can also move to other organs causing damage to them as well.

Some of the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis are decreased range in motion and warm, swelling, or painful joints. Also, due to the disease traveling throughout the body, fatigue, anemia, fever, and loss of appetite may occur. These symptoms vary person to person, occurring randomly in flares or staying apparent all of the time. Some people find that their disease goes into remission for a while, giving them a break from the symptoms.

What causes Rheumatoid Arthritis is still unknown, however, a genetic component may make it easier to develop.  This genetic component is thought to make you more susceptible to viruses and bacteria that could trigger the disease.

Early diagnosis, preferably within the first six months is very difficult to achieve even though it is ideal. Because the symptoms are so generic they are hard to blame solely on Rheumatoid Arthritis. They could be blamed on many other conditions that are completely unrelated.

Since there is not a single test that can be done to determine Rheumatoid Arthritis, doctors usually do a couple to be positive. Your doctor will check joints for the aforementioned symptoms (warm to touch, swelling, and redness). He will also check the reflexes and range of motion. Since the Erythrocyte sedimentation rate has a tendency to go up in people with RA, a blood test can help to diagnose. Doctors will also check for symmetry of the swelling and pain. A very good distinguishing factor about RA is that it will be in both left and right joints not just one or the other. After the diagnosis, X-rays can be done in order to track the progression in joints from there on out.

Rheumatoid Arthritis can wear away ends of bones and damage tendons, cartilage, and ligaments.  The joints may also become deformed and disabling; beginning to show rheumatoid nodules and limiting ability to use fully use those joints. These nodules form under skin and near bones that are exposed to pressure. You may see them most commonly on elbows, fingers, or heels. Eventually the same inflammation in your joints can move systematically through the body and start to affect your organs.

Although there is no cure for RA, there are many medications that can be taken to reduce pain and inflammation. Physical therapy can also be utilized to cut down on pain and build back up strength.

To help ease RA, there are some home remedies which may help to control the pain and fatigue. Be sure to do some sort of exercising such as swimming or walking when the joints are not inflamed or painful. This helps to strengthen muscles around joints. When the joints are painful try using heating pads and ice packs to dull the pain; letting ice numb it and heat soothe it away. Make sure to give yourself enough time to relax also. Find a stress relieving technique that helps you the best such as meditation or guided imagery.

 

Resources:

PubMed Health http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001467/

Arthritis Foundation http://www.arthritis.org/types-what-is-rheumatoid-arthritis.php

MayoClinic  http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/rheumatoid-      arthritis/DS00020/DSECTION=tests%2Dand%2Ddiagnosis

Medline Plus http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/rheumatoidarthritis.html

CDC http://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/rheumatoid.htm

 

 

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