Living With Rheumatoid Arthritis


Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most common types of arthritis, affecting more than two million people in the United States. It is frequently diagnosed in people between the ages of forty and sixty, but it can be discovered at other times of life as well. Unlike other types of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is a disorder of the autoimmune system. Autoimmune diseases are the result of the immune system attacking the tissues and organs of its own body, causing inflammation in the affected areas. These illnesses are generally chronic in nature, and while cures are not usually available there are treatments to help control the symptoms and the damage.

What Are The Symptoms?

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.

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.

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