Rheumatoid Arthritis is an auto immune disease, chronic condition which causes the body’s immune system to attack its own connective tissue. The protective cartilage that acts like a cushion between the joints is affected, causing pain, inflammation, and damage; injury to other organs such as lungs, heart and eyes may occur as well. There is no known cure therefore recognizing and identifying the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis is extremely important in order to provide proper diagnosis and treatment before this disease causes irreparable damage.
The symptoms for Rheumatoid Arthritis can be varied, mild or severe, depending upon the sufferer or activity of the disease. Common symptoms may include:
– Joint pain and stiffness in joints usually on both sides of the body (symmetrical)
– Fever or flu like symptoms
– Morning stiffness lasting more than 20 minutes
– Muscle aches
– Swelling, redness of joints
– Chest pain that comes with coughing or deep breathing
– Chest pain when laying down or bending forward
– Nodules under the skin around the joints where there is frequent pressure
Diagnosis should be done as quickly as possible by a specialist called a Rheumatologist. The doctor will go over the patients symptoms and medical history, along with a physical examination and possible x-rays to determine severity of inflammation and possible joint damage. Blood work is ordered to detect the abnormal antibodies called Rheumatoid factor (Rhf), which is commonly found in over 80% of rheumatoid patients. Another procedure which may done in the doctors office is an arthrocentesis. A needle and syringe are used to extract fluid from an affected joint, this relieves pressure and also supplies a sample of joint fluid to determine whether there is another cause of arthritis perhaps due to infection or gout.
Treatment for Rheumatoid arthritis is commonly done in two ways, “first line” medication and “second line” medication. “First line” or fast-acting drugs, such as ibuprofen, aspirin or cortisone, are used to reduce pain and inflammation. The “second line” or slow acting class of drugs are used to prevent damage to the joint and to bring the disease into remission. Treatments such as gold shots, methotrexate or plaquenil are known to be effective “second line” drugs. Surgery may be required to repair joints in some patients with severe joint deformity.
There are many other ways a sufferer is able to keep discomfort at a minimum. A healthy weight relieves joints of unneeded pressure, and regular physical activity keeps muscles from become lax and atrophying. Many foods such as night shade may cause painful flare ups, keeping watch on what is being consumed may aide in preventing pain as well. Topical rubs and heating pads are known to provide comfort and soothe painful joints and muscles. Glucosamine, Vitamin D and calcium are just some of the dietary supplements that can be taken to promote healthy joints and energy.
Please consult with a health professional before beginning any new treatment or exercise regime. Early diagnosis and treatment can provide a happy, healthy and active life can be had despite Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Learn more about dealing with the painful Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms at http://www.anaudlife.com where I share my thoughts, experiences and insights of living with this often crippling condition such as how to recognize Arthritis Food Triggers
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