The Guide To Rheumatoid Arthritis: What Is It? Symptoms, Causes And Treatment!

Man with pain in hand from arthritis

What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis or RA is an autoimmune disease. An autoimmune disease is a condition where in your immune system mistakenly starts attacking your body. The principle purpose of an immune system is to safeguard your body from outside threats like bacteria, viruses and other types of germs. In an autoimmune disease, you immune system considers your skin or joints as a foreign body and creates antibodies to attack it. The best way to combat this is to diagnose early on and begin treatment to slow down the damage.

What Are The Symptoms?

They are mainly those of swelling/inflammation and excruciating pain in the joints, experienced in short bursts of time called “flares”. The period of time where you don’t feel the inflammation or pain is called the remission.

Apart from the joint pain you can also experience swelling, stiffness and even loss of function of the joint due to deformities.

How Fast Can A Doctor Diagnose This Ailment?

It takes multiple lab tests and could take some time to conclude that the ailment is indeed RA. Your doctor will ask about your medical history and will conduct a physical examination of your joints.

This will include checking for swelling, range of motion and difficulty in movement and testing your reflexes and strength.

What Sort Of Test Needs To Be Done To Conclude Rheumatoid Arthritis?

They will test your blood for substances like antibodies and acute phase reactants that will rise and drop during times of acute inflammation or tissue injury.

They will also conduct ultrasound, MRI and even an X-ray scan to better come to an understanding of your condition.

What Sort Of Treatment Can I Seek?

Firstly, there is no cure for Rheumatoid arthritis; so, most of the treatments focus on managing it. It is a challenging disease that keeps both the patient as well as the doctor on constant edge, to tackle the problem and find an effective remedy to slow the progression of the condition.

The strategy that many physicians follow is the treat-to-target approach. This has led to fewer symptoms for those with Rheumatoid arthritis. The strategy includes:

  • Setting a specific testing goal that signals either remission or low disease state
  • Testing acute phase reactants and monitor on a monthly basis to assess the progress being made
  • Constantly switching up the regimen if no progress is being made.

One of the key points during the treatment is the need to control and reduce the inflammation to prevent the further damage of the joint

What Sort Of Medication Can I Take?

The main over-the-counter rheumatology medication includes:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Corticosteroids
  • Acetaminophen

What About Home Remedies?

There are certain lifestyle arrangements that you can follow to help improve the quality of your life when dealing with Rheumatoid arthritis. These include assistive devices, plenty of rest and occasionally exercising to help strengthen the joint and supporting muscles. Let us look through them one by one:

Exercise

You can try your hand at low-impact exercises such as:

  • Hydro Therapy: Exercising in warm water such as swimming, water aerobics among others, help reduce pain and allow for joint tenderness. This therapy has help uplift their mood and over all well being
  • Tai-Chi: it is a traditional martial art that involves slow controlled movements through mental focus. The exercise helps improve coordination and reduce pains and stress levels. The exercise is very therapeutic, and helps you see the brighter things in life.
  • Yoga: This involves postures that promote breathing and oneness. Yoga or stretching helps Rheumatoid arthritis patients improve their flexibility and motion range.
  • Walking: A brisk walk along a flat plain would do wonders as well. A mere 30 minutes of walking and you will feel boosted moods all day long. If you are having trouble with balancing, then fret not as you can make use of walking sticks as well. It is important that you keep moving!

Hot And Cold Therapy

The application of cold therapy by means of ice packs allows for reduction in inflammation and the necessary dulling of the nerve impulses. 20 to 30 minutes if applying the ice pack will yield you visible results!

Hot pack treatment or simply having a hot shower, will help ease and release muscle tension. You will feel immediate reduction in the stiffness of muscles that support the joints.

Use Devices That Are Assistive

There are certain devices that can hold your joints in the same position to lessen its aggravation due to movement. These include splints and braces. You can also make use of crutches or walking canes for support and mobility, especially during an episode. Further, it is safer to install your house with handrails along stairs and especially in the bathrooms where there is a possibility for you to slip and fall.