What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis And How Can You Manage It?

by AZ Pain Doctors, on May 23, 2020 8:16:53 AM

Many people headed to a pain clinic in Glendale are struggling with rheumatoid arthritis. Part of the reason for this is that while many people may associate it with chronic inflammation and back pain in Glendale. However, the truth is that this extends well beyond joints and other areas. In some cases, the condition can impact several different bodily systems. To understand how best to protect yourself, you need to know everything about the starter condition.


Understanding The Condition


Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune system that begins when your immune system gets confused, and starts attacking bodily tissues due to thinking it is a foreign attacker. Compared to the neck pain in Glendale that you get from osteoarthritis, this isn’t a wearing down type of damage that you see. Instead, it impacts the joint lining, resulting in swelling. This doesn’t just only mean chronic pain in Glendale, but also potential erosion of bones and deforming of joints. The inflammation can also damage other bodily areas, potentially causing disabilities.


Keeping this in mind, what are some of the more common symptoms that you may see? Warm and swollen joints are a possibility, as well as stiffness. Stiffness, in this case, tends to get worse after periods of inactivity or in the early morning. You may also see general symptoms like fever, fatigue, or losing your appetite. As an added note, early RA tends to impact smaller joints at first. Be sure to check how your fingers and toes feel, as they may be a precursor to other problems.


As the disease moves on, you’re likely to see symptoms that spread to the knees, ankles, wrists, shoulders, and hips. A lot of the time, symptoms occur in both sets of joints on both sides of your body. However, as many as 40% of all people with RA may also find themselves having symptoms outside of the joints. This can range from your skin to your eyes to your heart to your kidneys to your bone marrow. Symptoms and signs can vary in terms of severity, and may even fluctuate. These entail flares where disease activity is heavy compared to cycles of remission. If you find repeated and persistent discomfort or swelling in your joints reach out to a doctor.


Doctors don’t exactly know what starts the process of the immune system attacking your joints which leads to the symptoms and potential deformities, however, a genetic element is suspected. Note that your genetics don’t actually cause RA, but they do make you more likely to be affected by certain environmental elements that can trigger the disease, like certain bacteria and viruses.


There are some additional risk factors that should be noted as well. For example, women are more likely than men to get RA. The reason for this isn’t known, but again, it may be genetic, or relate to issues that women have as they get older. On the topic of age, while you can technically get RA at any age, it’s more likely to happen at middle age. Along with this, if a family member has RA, you’re more likely to get it yourself, also pointing to that genetic connection.


There are also some elements more within your control that can lead to increased risk as well. For example, smoking increases RA risk, particularly for those that already have a genetic predisposition. The presence of smoking also seems to be associated with greater severity of the disease. Obesity also seems to play a role, especially for women aged 55 and younger. Finally, there’s the potential for environmental exposure having a role. We don’t understand a lot of the fundamentals here, but it’s believed that exposure to silica or asbestos may increase the chance of getting RA. For example, it’s been shown that emergency workers exposed to dust in 9/11 have a greater risk of autoimmune diseases such as RA.


Complementing Conditions


Another thing that we should talk about is the fact that there are certain conditions that are believed to occur concurrently with RA. Depression, surprisingly enough, is a common example. While the connection is known to a lot of medical professionals, people with RA rarely get screened for it, so it goes along untreated. However, it’s been shown that if concurring depression isn’t addressed, the actual RA treatment may see reduced effectiveness, such as pain management in Glendale.


What’s not clear right now is whether depression/anxiety for RA sufferers stems from their physical symptoms, or is actually a symptom itself of the widespread inflammation. However, left untreated, depression can lead to health problems in its own right, so sufferers of both should be ready to share.


RA also, in and of itself, serves as an increased risk factor for a lot of other conditions. One such example is osteoporosis. Even some medications for RA increase osteoporosis risk. This condition weakens the bones and increases the chance of fractures. Sufferers may also detect rheumatoid nodules. These are firm tissue bumps that you generally see around pressure points like elbows. However, if you want to get technical, they can appear anywhere in the body.


As mentioned before, RA leads to issues with the eyes, in particular, greater chances of Sjogren’s syndrome. This decreases moisture in the eyes and mouth. People with RA may also experience higher proportions of fat to lean mass, even at a normal BMI.


Lastly, RA can lead to an increased risk of some very dangerous conditions. For example, it can lead to heart problems by making it more likely to get blocked and hardened arteries, as well as inflammation of the sac that covers your heart. There’s also the chance of increased lung disease, due to greater risk of scarring lung tissues. This leads to progressive shortness of breath. Finally, this can lead to lymphoma risk. Lymphoma is a name for a greater group of blood cancers.

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