Over 1.3 million Americans are living with rheumatoid arthritis, according to the Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Network. Rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of the joints, causing painful swelling and inflammation and eventually leading to bone deterioration and joint deformity.
There are certain things you should know about rheumatoid arthritis, and they are as follows:
It Affects People of All Age Groups
Many consider rheumatoid arthritis as a condition that only affects older people. Rheumatoid arthritis can strike at a much younger age and even affect children and teens, which is called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, which is a more common type of rheumatoid arthritis in children (16 years or younger). Generally, adults start showing signs and symptoms at 30 to 40.
RA Flares Are Not Limited To One Joint
Certain factors trigger the RA flares and they start mild and gradually become worse, affecting the whole body. The pain and discomfort from an RA flare-up can affect your sleep, leading to extreme fatigue and lack of energy, where even getting out of bed becomes difficult.
Women Are At More Risk
About 75% of RA patients in the United States are women, according to the American College of Rheumatology. Rheumatoid arthritis affects women at a young age. The reason for this is not entirely clear. Many researchers attribute this to genetic predisposition, hormone fluctuations, and environmental factors. Surprisingly, women are 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with RA than men.
It Is Not Easy To Diagnose Rheumatoid Arthritis
The early signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are similar to other disease conditions, which makes it difficult to rule out as RA. A sound understanding of physical symptoms is required for the physician to prescribe specific tests for RA, as they do not show up on blood tests or checkups.
Extremely Painful Symptoms and Affects Bone Health
The symptoms typically include swelling, joint pain, tenderness, and stiffness. They occur especially in the mornings and are extremely painful. Though it starts in your joints, it can be felt throughout your body. Even if you have control over your RA, it can result in secondary degenerative osteoarthritis in your weight-bearing joints, such as the knees, ankles, and hips.
Proper Diet Can Ease The Pain
An anti-inflammatory diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and fiber may help with the symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Make sure you avoid trigger foods such as processed carbohydrates and saturated or trans fats.
Staying Active Can Help With RA Management
Low-impact activities like brisk walking or swimming, and gentle stretching, can reduce rheumatoid arthritis pain. Staying active can also help with joint mobility, muscle strength, and bone health. However, during flare-ups, it is best to rest your joints.
The rheumatoid arthritis signs and symptoms vary from person to person. Some may do better with medications, while some may not. Be in touch with your physician so that they can adjust your plan of care that suits you well.
Since it is hard to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis, particularly in its early stages and the cause of it is unknown, it is better to have regular checkups. Keep a recorded track of your signs and symptoms so your physician can take appropriate steps based on them. If you have further doubts regarding rheumatoid arthritis, contact your primary care physician or an orthopedic specialist for more details.