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Rheumatoid Arthritis



Etiology

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune inflammatory disease that causes pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of the function of the joint. It is caused by an unknown fault in the immune system and can be genetic. It affects people of any age, but mostly in people over 40. Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic disease, that is, it can affect many different joints and, in some people, other parts of the body as well, including the blood, lungs, and heart.

Diagnosis

Since rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, antibodies can be found within the bloodstream.

Symptoms

Although the disease is progressive, symptoms can come and go. Long periods of being pain-free can follow flare-ups of pain. Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include: 
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of appetite
  • Low grade fever
  • Muscle and joint aches and stiffness
  • Swelling, warmth and redness
  • Joint disfigurement

Home Treatment

Since there is no known cure for rheumatoid arthritis, treatments are aimed at symptom relief and joint mobility.  Symptom-relief products include:

  • Ice packs to help reduce inflammation and pain
  • Hot packs to provide soothing relief for arthritic pain
  • Pain relieving gels to provide temporary arthritic pain relief

Research shows that exercise is beneficial to arthritic patients. Arthritis reduces mobility and limits a person's activities, but exercise lessens stiffness and joint pain while effectively increasing muscle strength, flexibility, and endurance.

  • Exercises, including walking and targeted exercise for a specific part of the body
  • Hand strength exercises
  • Stationary bikes
  • Tube exercises

Other types of exercise can be performed as long as symptoms aren't aggravated.

The disease can progress to the point of interfering with daily activities such as opening a jar, walking , getting up from the seated position and cutting food. If you are a rheumatoid arthritis sufferer, there are many mobility aids to assist you, including:

  • Canes
  • Wheeled walkers
  • Rollators
  • Special utensils 


Medical Treatment

Some arthritic conditions call for simple home treatments such as rest and ice. Others demand more advanced physical therapy techniques, such as ultrasound and electrical stimulation. And still others require surgery or other major interventions, although these, too, are complemented with an exercise program that's part of rehabilitation.

Doctors recommend two types of medications to help rheumatoid arthritis: aspirin and cortisone (corticosteroids). These two medications will help reduce pain and inflammation. Drugs such as methotrexate and hydroxychloroquine are sometimes prescribed by doctors to reduce the amount of degeneration and disfigurement that accompanies the disease. The drugs also can aid in inhibiting the disease's progression.

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