Rheumatoid Arthritis is one of the most common health conditions in recent times. It affects more than one million individuals in US alone, of which, three-quarters are women. What makes RA or Rheumatoid Arthritis a problem is that it causes an inflammation of the joints, making engaging in normal daily activities a laborious and painful task for those who have the condition.
Today, I am going to talk to you all about what you should know about Rheumatoid Arthritis. I’m sure that almost all of you reading this either knows someone who has RA or may have a risk of having it, if not already diagnosed with the condition. So here are the 10 facts you should know about Rheumatoid Arthritis:
1. Stress Causes RA to Flare Up
Not only that, but leading a worrisome and anxious life may also be one of the factors that lead to its development. Engaging in meditation, relaxation and visualization exercises may help prevent the development of RA or can work along with conventional treatment.
2. RA is Linked to Smoking
Yes, smoking is not only bad for respiratory health but it can also be linked to severe cases of Rheumatoid Arthritis. A new study published in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases says that a third of severe cases of RA is related to smoking. Knowing that smoking also increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, this just means that ditching the habit makes more sense than ever.
3. Osteoporosis Can Be Caused by RA
Individuals with Rheumatoid Arthritis are prone to fractures, bone loss, bone thinning, and yes, osteoporosis. This can be due to the fact that medications to treat Rheumatoid Arthritis, called glucocorticoids causes thinning of the bones. This is why individuals with RA should get some extra calcium and Vitamin D which can be found in saltwater fish, egg yolks, leafy greens and dairy.
4. Your Heart Can Be Affected By RA
Inflammation in the joint caused by Rheumatoid Arthritis can spread all over the body and reach the heart, causing damage to it. Pericarditis can also result from having Rheumatoid Arthritis, a condition wherein the membrane around the heart gets inflamed. Heart attack is also increased by 60% in individuals who has RA according from a study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine.
5. There is No One-Size-Fits-All Treatment for RA
Because the symptoms of RA differs from one individual to the next, it simply follows that therapies that work for one differ to another as well. It is best to be completely honest with your doctor so the both of you can agree on the best ways to prevent permanent joint damage, relieve pain and soothe inflammation if you have Rheumatoid Arthritis. Lifestyle changes as well as medications both help, but people can respond to them differently.
6. New Meds Can Mean New Hope for Those with RA
With the advances in medical science, medications nowadays are not just for the treatment of RA but also for the prevention of it getting worse. Called biologic response modifiers, they can completely revolutionize how Rheumatoid Arthritis is treated.
7. RA Can Be Moody Sometimes and Can Stick or Go
Yes, it is a disease, but Rheumatoid Arthritis manifests in different ways for different individuals. In some cases, it can present as a mild case which lasts for years and then suddenly vanishes. For some, it is all about intense short flare ups. But do not despair, with current and past researches, doctors are closing in on a way on how to categorize the types and devise the best treatment for each one.
8. Severe Cases of RA May Require Surgery
Though reserved for the most extreme of cases, surgery can help repair damaged tendons and joints or even replace them. Surgery is improving so much nowadays, just like with medications, that it is now possible to have joint replacement surgeries which only require a small incision and takes a very short time for recovery. Hooray science!
9. People with RA Can Exercise
In fact, people with RA should Exercise. Why? Because muscle strengthening exercises like weight training can improve muscle tone and minimize pressure on the joints. Brisk walking and swimming are low-impact aerobic exercises which helps maintain heart health and a slim waistline without hurting the joints and balancing exercises, such as standing on one foot improves balance and minimizes the risk of falls. One important thing to note though is that on periods of flare-ups, one should rest and forego exercise for the time being.
10. Living with RA Can Still Mean and Active and Happy Life
Rheumatoid Arthritis should not keep you from living a divine and healthy life. In fact, it should motivate you to appreciate life and strive to get better, just like Vancouver Washington based Shelley Simpson who joins marathons despite her severe Rheumatoid Arthritis. Sure, going for a full marathon might be extreme, but nothing is keeping you from enjoying a half hour speed-strolling around your neighbourhood at least once a day, right?