Rheumatoid Arthritis is a very common chronic illness, it affects more women than men.
Approximately 1% of the worlds’ population are suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis. What do you do if you think you might be one of these people? How do you go about finding answers and what are your options when it comes to treatment?
Rheumatoid Arthritis Test
The early symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis could be, but are not limited to;
Swollen joints such as fingers, wrists and feet
Stiffness in joints
Weakend hands due to pain
Painful reactions to weather changes
If you experience any of these symptoms and you have been for a while then you should go visit your doctor. Your doctor should try to eliminate that there is a different cause to your experiences. Your doctor should then pass you on to go se a rheumatologist.
The Rheumatologist will most likely test your range of motion, feel your joints for swelling, test your strength and then have you take x-rays and then a blood test.
People that have Rheumatoid Arthritis will more often have a C-reactive protein (CRP) or an elevated Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), This indicates that you have an inflammatory process happening in your body.
At the same time they will usually test for the Rheumatoid factor and also anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies ( anti-CCP).
Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosis
Getting a diagnosis can mean that you finally have some sense of clarity with what is happening with you and you might feel a sense of relief. Getting the diagnosis also means that you now have a chronic illness that can flare up anytime during your life. Now you need to learn how to manage it and the first step in this process is usually with medications.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Medications
There are a variety of medications for Rheumatoid Arthritis some might work well for you and others won’t. In the beginning you will most likely try out medications to see what will fit.
It is quite common today to get a biological medication or a DMARD and what these do is that they lower your immune system to settle the part of it that triggers the inflammation, one thing to be weary of though is that as they lower your immune system you have an increased risk of infections.
This kind of treatment is often, but not always, paired with a medication called Methotrexate. Methotrexate is a non-biological DMARD which works in a way where it reduces the inflammation by slowing down the growth of the cells.
Steroids such as Cortisone work in such a way where it lowers collagen producing cells, the injections will shut down the collagen producing cells in the area, which will then suppress inflammation and lower pain.
NSAID medications are your over the counter pain medications such as ibuprofen. These might work in very mild cases but they are most likely not going to work if you have a serious flare-up of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Prognosis
With the medications and other treatments we have today the prognosis is not too bad. Rheumatoid Arthritis can lower life expectancy by 10-15 years, it is, however, not uncommon for people to live up into their 90s with this illness.
There is a lot of things that can affect the way Rheumatoid Arthritis will act up in your life. Diet and exercise are two big factors for how well you and your body will manage with this chronic illness.
By caring for your body, by eating good and nutritious food as well as building up your muscles around your joints you will be able to lower inflammation as well as protection your joints and allowing your muscles to carry you and assist you in day to day life without unnecessary pain or stress on your joints.
If you were to have major issues there are surgeries that can help with lowering your pain and also with increased motion.
Research on the subject moves forward relatively rapidly and the drugs are improving fast.
It is only around 12 years ago when I was in a trial for a new treatment, at the time, Enbrel which is a biological medication. When I was a child, let´s say around 22 years ago, the only treatment offered to me was steroid treatment.
They have made leaps into the treatments regarding Rheumatoid Arthritis in a short amount of time.
The medications that you are given today can work wonders and they can give you your life back, allowing you to travel and see the world without pain, doing your every day things, caring for your loved ones or perhaps just being able to sleep or take a shower without pain.
Thank you for reading, If you have any questions or comments then please write them down below and I will get back to you.