• Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disorder affecting more than just your joints.
• RA can cause fatigue, eye and joint damage, and lung problems.
• Light exercise, dietary changes, and medications are methods for managing and treating RA.
• Biologics and stem cell therapy are two experimental treatments that may benefit some individuals.
• With the right combination of treatments and lifestyle changes, you can take control of your RA and lead a healthy life.
Arthritis is a common condition that affects the joints, causing pain and swelling. There are several types of arthritis. One of the most common is rheumatoid arthritis. Here’s what you need to know about this disease.
Rheumatoid Arthritis and Its Effect on Your Body
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disorder affecting more than just your joints. RA can cause many problems, some of which may surprise you. Here are four ways RA can affect your life:
Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of RA, affecting up to 80% of people with the condition. The exact cause of fatigue in RA is unknown, but it’s thought to be due to a combination of factors, including inflammation, anemia, and lack of sleep. Fatigue can make it difficult to perform everyday tasks and may even lead to depression. If you’re always tired, be sure to talk to your doctor about possible treatments.
Inflammation caused by RA can also affect your eyesight. Around 50% of people with RA will experience some form of an eye problem at some point during their disease. Common eye problems associated with RA include dryness, redness, and pain. In severe cases, inflammation can lead to vision loss. If you’re experiencing any eye problems, be sure to see an ophthalmologist for treatment.
Joint damage is one of the most well-known complications of RA. Inflammation caused by the disease can destroy the cartilage and bone within joints, leading to pain, stiffness, and deformity. Joint damage can make it difficult to perform everyday tasks such as dressing and bathing. See your doctor for treatment options if you’re experiencing joint pain or stiffness.
Although less well-known than other complications, lung problems are common in people with RA—affecting up to one-third of all patients. Inflammation caused by RA can lead to a buildup of fluid in the lungs (pleurisy), difficulty breathing (dyspnea), and even scarring of the lung tissue (pulmonary fibrosis). If you experience any respiratory problems, see your doctor for evaluation and treatment.
Managing and Treating RA
There’s no cure for RA, but there are ways to manage and treat the disease. Here are some of those ways:
People who have arthritis can’t run marathons, but light exercise can help to reduce pain, improve joint function, and increase mobility. One of the best forms of light exercise is ballroom dancing. You and your partner can enroll in a local ballroom dance lesson to help manage your RA. This can also be a social activity for both of you.
Certain foods may be able to help manage the symptoms of RA. For example, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help reduce inflammation and improve overall health. In addition, eating certain foods such as fatty fish and nuts can help reduce inflammation. Be sure to talk to your doctor before making any significant dietary changes.
Medications are the most common treatment for RA. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen are often prescribed to reduce inflammation and pain. Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) can also be prescribed to help slow the progression of RA. Corticosteroids are another standard treatment, but they should only be used for short periods due to their potential side effects.
There are also some experimental treatments available for RA. Here are some of them:
One of the latest treatments for RA is biologics. These are medications made of proteins that target specific parts of the immune system and help reduce inflammation.
Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cell therapy is another experimental treatment option involving using stem cells to replace damaged joint tissue and potentially slow the progression of RA. It’s a promising therapy, but more research is needed to confirm its long-term effectiveness.
Rheumatoid arthritis can significantly impact your life, but it doesn’t have to be debilitating. You can manage your symptoms and lead an active life with the right treatment plan. First, talk to your doctor about what options are available for you. Don’t be afraid to seek alternative treatments, such as acupuncture or yoga. With the right combination of treatments and lifestyle changes, you can take control of your RA and live a whole life.