What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
The question of rheumatoid arthritis is not one that can be answered simply. This is because arthritis of any sort is a very complex condition, and one that needs to be taken very seriously. Millions of people around the world are diagnosed with one arthritis condition or another each and every year, and if you have just gone to the doctors and been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, here is what you are going to need to know.
What is it?
Rheumatoid arthritis is defined as being a chronic autoimmune disease with inflammation of the joints and marked deformities being some of the most commonly experienced symptoms. There are a few different types of rheumatoid arthritis that a person can develop, including juvenile rheumatoid arthritis which is the type that affects children.
Causes and Symptoms
Obviously one of the most important things for people to know are the causes of the condition. There is actually no known cause of this type of arthritis but instead there are various different factors which are considered as possibly being triggers. Living an unhealthy lifestyle for instance can cause a person to develop this disease. Not taking care of your body, and in particular not getting enough calcium, may also be the underlying cause in your case.
In terms of the different symptoms and complications of the disease, there are many. This condition can either develop gradually or at an accelerated rate, and it really all depends on the person. The first signs of it often feel similar to the flu, which explains why so many arthritis sufferers go with their condition undiagnosed for such a long period of time.
However there are other symptoms that you will notice as time goes on and the disease progresses, but you want to keep an eye on flu-like symptoms right from the get go, to ensure that they are actually from a flu and not symptoms of a more serious condition such as arthritis. The disease will then begin attacking your bones and joints, mainly in the areas that are overused like the knees and elbows.
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can appear for a time, causing the presence of symptoms. This is called a flare, and can be quite frequent and progressively deteriorating or spontaneous and sporadic. The symptoms can also disappear for periods, and this is called remission. Remission can be the result of treatment or can happen without warning. Remissions can last weeks, months or even years for the lucky patients of rheumatoid arthritis. During a flare, symptoms will most commonly include muscle and joint pain and stiffness. Other symptoms can be extreme fatigue, loss of appetite and a low-grade fever. Joints can become swollen and tender to the touch. All of these symptoms will be most prevalent first thing in the morning, or after other stretches of inactivity.
Rheumatoid arthritis does not have to take your life away from you, and you can live quite comfortably with the condition as long as you take the proper steps in terms of treatment. With the different medications, natural remedies and other treatments that are out there and available today, you will always be able to find relief of your pain and get back to your life.
What About Treatment?
There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, but there has been much progress in controlling symptoms and relieving the pain and discomfort. Studies show that the earlier you seek treatment for your disease, the more effectively you will be able to control the symptoms and slow the progression of the illness. The best way to treat your rheumatoid arthritis is through a combination of rest, exercise to strengthen the joints, and medication to relieve the pain and slow joint deterioration. A rheumatologist is a doctor who specializes in autoimmune disorders, and he will be able to help you find the best course of treatment for your particular situation. For mild cases of the disease, a pain medication such as Tylenol and moderate activity may be sufficient to keep the symptoms at bay. For those with more severe cases, there are a number of medications that can be tried until one is found that offers satisfactory results.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic condition that can be hard for a patient to cope with. Fortunately, through education, quality medical care and medications, many rheumatoid arthritis sufferers are able to enjoy a high quality of life without debilitating pain and joint deterioration.