Did you know that more than one hundred diverse autoimmune diseases exist in the world these days? While each of them affects the human body in its own way, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that primarily deals with joints.
But what exactly is it? How can it be treated and what orthopedic medications should be taken? Finally, is there a way to cure it permanently? Let's figure it out together by going through this article.
What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Before delving into the notion of rheumatoid arthritis, it is of vital importance to define what is arthritis in general. Simply put, it is a chronic health condition that is characterized by joint inflammation.
Interestingly enough, there exist about one hundred different arthritis sub-types. However, they all might be divided into two main categories, namely non-inflammatory and inflammatory arthritis. Here is the list of the most widely-spread arthritis sub-types:
- And many other sub-types of arthritis.
While all of them belong to the group of musculoskeletal and skin health complications, each arthritis sub-type has its own causes, pieces of evidence, and treatment opportunities. So, let's take a closer look at rheumatoid arthritis and discuss its peculiarities.
A catchy arthritis-related fact: Osteoarthritis is the most widely-spread subtype of arthritis. About 500 million people in the world suffer from a health condition. While rheumatoid arthritis, in its turn, is the second most common arthritis subtype. However, it occurs 10 times less frequently than osteoarthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an arthritis sub-type that is associated with the active inflammation process in joints that appeared as a result of an autoimmune disorder. Therefore, it appears as a result of the erroneous attack of the immune system upon a patient's body.
Unlike other widely-spread arthritis subtypes that tend to appear in people after forty, RA might develop in children, teenagers, adults, and elder people at any age. Moreover, it appears suddenly and develops rapidly in most cases.
Among the basic RA symptoms are:
- Inability to move affected joints easily (either from time to time or permanently during the day);
- Painful feeling in joints (this health condition is oftentimes called painful joints);
- Tender and swollen joints;
- The appearance of rheumatoid nodules
A catchy arthritis-related fact: Sometimes it might be challenging for your health care practitioner to diagnose what type of arthritis you have. Therefore, you might be asked to undergo a special physical exam, blood test, X-ray, or even joint fluid analysis.
The most typical joints RA affects are the ones that are located in:
A typical characteristic of RA is that it usually hits joints symmetrically. Furthermore, it tends to appear in several pairs of joints simultaneously and cause the overall whole-body illness signs such as fatigue, weakness, or appetite changes.
A catchy arthritis-related fact: About 80 percent of people with RA have a so-called "rheumatoid factor" in their body. Simply put, it is a protein released by the immune system while attacking healthy body tissues.
How to Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis?
There exist several methods of how to manage RA and, therefore, relieve pain. Based on your personal health conditions, a health care practitioner might prescribe any of the following treatment options:
- A balanced diet. Healthy eating will not only nurture your body with vitamins, minerals, and proteins but also assist you in normalizing your weight. Therefore, it is an essential step in the early treatment of RA;
- An intake of omega-3. Adding fish oil supplements to your balanced diet might also be efficient when treating RA. However, please make sure to consult with your health care practitioner beforehand;
- An active lifestyle. Regular walking, gentle exercises, or swimming also belong to the ways of reducing rheumatoid arthritis pain. However, make sure to consult with your health care practitioner when selecting a physical activity, as some too strenuous workouts might bring harm instead of improvement;
- A physical therapy. In some cases, a special selection of exercises might come in handy to ease pain and return mobility to joints affected by RA. It is usually held under the surveillance of a trained physical therapist;
- A mental health-related therapy. Such methods as deep breathing, meditation, and a positive mindset might distract you from the concentration of pain and, therefore, reduce it. As well, the elimination of stress might be an efficient way of treating RA;
- A compress. The usage of either hot or cold compresses might also be helpful to control pain in people with RA. While a hot pad is usually applied to soothe stiff joints and relieve tired muscles, a cold one is used to numb pain in joints and reduce inflammation;
- An application of a topical product. Sometimes, the usage of topical cream or gel might assist you in getting rid of RA-related pain;
- An intake or injection of special orthopedic medication. If such methods as a balanced diet and an active lifestyle have little to no effect on your RA condition, you might need to either intake or inject a special orthopedic medication. It should be prescribed exclusively by your health care practitioner;
- A surgery. In the most severe rheumatoid arthritis case, the only "way out" of your health condition might be to undergo surgery. Namely, either your complete joint might be replaced or an operation called "joint fusion" might be performed.
A catchy arthritis-related fact: There exists a special non-profit organization that does research in the field of arthritis prevention and treatment, which is called the Arthritis Foundation.
Can You Get Rid of Rheumatoid Arthritis-Related Joint Pain Permanently?
It is essential to understand that rheumatoid arthritis is an ongoing disease (when being more precise, it belongs to continuous musculoskeletal and skin diseases). Therefore, the above-mentioned treatment options will NOT be able to cure it permanently. However, they will efficiently:
- Stop the inflammatory process;
- Reduce pain;
- Relieve symptoms;
- Block the joint damage;
- Prevent long-term complications.
As a result, the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis can substantially improve the overall quality of life for a certain time period. However, you cannot get rid of the disease-related pain or cure rheumatoid arthritis permanently as of now.
A Bottom Line
All in all, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a widely spread health complication and a chronic disease that is associated with joint damage caused by an autoimmune disorder. Despite the fact that there exists a whole number of ways to take care of RA symptoms, the disease can NOT be treated enduringly as of now. So, everything that is left for us to do is to undergo the existing treatment to get rid of the pain in joints and hope that a permanent treatment of RA will appear in the near future.