Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a condition that affects many elderly and even some younger people and is a very painful disorder that causes inflammation in many parts of the body. Although it is generally marked by painful joints in the arms, hands, and wrists, it is actually much more widespread than that. Rheumatoid arthritis can actually affect the lungs, eyes, and parts of the skin. It mostly affects tendon and connective tissue, but the inflammation can wreak havoc on the rest of the body.
The two best-known types of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA). The symptoms are identical; however, these two types of arthritis occur for unlike reasons. When the joints are misused and overused, OA may occur as the protecting cartilage that guards the joint crashes down, causing the bones to rub together. Generally, this occurs in the knees, as well as in the spine, hips and hands. In addition, a person who suffers from OA will likely experience more frequent pain in the later phases, after some of the cartilage is gone. Rheumatoid arthritis pertains to the immune system, which in some cases attacks joint tissues. RA, at the present, is yet to be fully studied by the medical community. More often than not, this type of arthritis will begin in our hands, feet and wrists. It will then move on to hips, elbows and shoulders as it progresses. Some symptoms include slight fever, weakness, stiffness, pain, reddened lumps of tissue beneath the skin, and fatigue.
Rheumatoid arthritis is actually a chronic disorder, which means it persists over a long period of time, which is typical of an autoimmune disease such as this. Most people that are diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis generally complain of pain in the joints of the limbs, but a diagnosis can be reached very easily with blood tests. Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis comes in a variety of fashions, particularly anti-inflammatory drugs, therapy, and steroid or medications. If you start to notice symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, then you can start by taking over-the-counter painkillers, such as ibuprofen to see if they help relieve the pain. If those don’t work, then you can take the next step which is to see a doctor for something more potent.
Your doctor will probably ask you about symptoms will do a variety of tests, such as x-rays and blood samples. Luckily, the diagnosis is very easy and you can begin treatment very quickly. However, battling rheumatoid arthritis is a long process and there is no certain cure.
The most common symptoms are swelling and numbness in the joints of the hands, legs, and arms. You might experience severe or minor pain in these areas as well. In some extreme cases, rheumatoid arthritis sufferers will see their hands swell up to an enormous size and become very tender to the touch. However, if you let it get this far without seeing a doctor in your treatment options are extremely limited.
With regard to treatment, the aim of most treatments for rheumatoid arthritis is to reduce pain and inflammation while minimizing future damage to the joints and connective tissue. As I said before, there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, but this is not mean that the disease cannot be managed. It is very important that you take action early on so that you can avoid potentially disfigured joints. Otherwise, you might be looking at a lifetime of chronic pain and severely inflamed hands, arms, legs, and feet.
There are several prescription drugs that can be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, but the most common are steroidal medications, such as cortisone. Cortisone is generally injected straight into the joints and can quickly and effectively remove pain and inflammation from the affected area. There are also several experimental treatments being used effectively, but you might have to ask your doctor to learn more about them.
Some sources say that route for arthritis can shorten your life span by five to 10 years, but these claims are tough to substantiate. Rheumatoid arthritis tends to affect women more than men and effects approximately 3 out of every 10,000 people per year. Studies do show that people affected with this condition risk being out of work or disabled in the future. Approximately 33% of rheumatoid arthritis sufferers will be unable to work within several years, and more than 50% face permanent damage to your body. This is why it is crucial to see a doctor at the first sign of any symptoms so that you can begin the process of healing your joints and bones.
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