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Rheumatoid arthritis: Symptoms, causes and treatments

Struggling with joint pains early on in life? Learn about rheumatoid arthritis – its symptoms, causes and effective treatments today.

Do you wake up to stiff joints every morning and wonder why you feel old before your time? It’s normal to experience some aches and pains as we age, but if this is impacting you on a daily basis and affecting your quality of life then it’s time to get advice from a healthcare professional.

Rheumatoid arthritis might not be a condition that you think would affect you, but it’s more common than you may realise. A chronic autoimmune disease which primarily affects the joints, rheumatoid arthritis can have a significant impact on many bodily systems and lasting impact. So let’s dive in and learn a bit more about rheumatoid arthritis – its symptoms, causes, and possible effective treatments, so you don’t have to put up with pain anymore.

How to identify rheumatoid arthritis

Identifying rheumatoid arthritis is complex and should always be carried out by a rheumatologist – someone who specialises in inflammatory joint conditions. This is because it is easy to confuse it with other forms of arthritis, like osteoarthritis (due to wear and tear), which requires a very different approach to treatment. Rheumatoid arthritis on the other hand, affects the lining of the joints, which eventually results in bone erosion and joint deformity.

The initial signs of rheumatoid arthritis are quite mild – joint stiffness in the morning, mild swelling around fingers or slight difficulty while moving your hands, feets or wrists. These symptoms can often be ignored or assumed to be a result of overexertion, but if they persist for a few weeks, they can likely be classified as early indicators of rheumatoid arthritis.

However, as this condition advances, the symptoms become more noticeable. You may notice swelling and warmth in the affected joints. Additionally, the pain spreads and doesn’t limit itself to one joint, often mirroring on both sides.

If you think that the only symptom of rheumatoid arthritis is joint pain, you may want to think again. Rheumatoid arthritis can impact your body in many different ways and can result in tiredness, mild fever, and weight loss. These symptoms affect your overall wellbeing but can help you recognise the presence of rheumatoid arthritis early, resulting in scope for effective treatment.

What causes rheumatoid arthritis?

Before we talk about treatments, let’s first understand the origins of this condition. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition. This means that your body’s immune system, which has the responsibility of guarding us against bacteria and infections, can mistakenly attack your joint tissues.

What triggers this autoimmune response is still being researched. However, it is thought that the following are some key factors:

Genetics: Whilst rheumatoid arthritis cannot be directly inherited, having a family member with this condition can increase your risk. Certain genes may make you more susceptible to environmental factors, which may trigger this disease.

Lifestyle factors: Lifestyle often plays a huge role in our body’s ability to contract diseases. Habits like smoking are a major risk factor, especially if you have a genetic susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis. Similarly, obesity and a less active lifestyle could also play a role. Excess weight puts unwanted stress on joints which may further result in inflammation.

Hormones and gender: Women are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, indicating the play of hormonal factors as a risk for this disease. It often progresses during pregnancy and may flare up after childbirth, which is why being aware of the early symptoms is crucial.

How to treat rheumatoid arthritis: Effective treatment strategies

The most effective treatments for rheumatoid arthritis include:

  • Medications: The primary goal of an arthritis treatment is to reduce pain and prevent future damage. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are often prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis. These medicines contain biologic agents, which target specific parts of the immune system that trigger inflammation and joint damage. In addition, a curcumin supplement such as Turmeric X39 helps to reduce joint swelling and inflammation, relieve joint pains, and improve the symptoms of arthritis.
  • Lifestyle and diet changes: A balanced and low inflammation diet rich in antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids can help to alleviate symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. For this, items like fresh fruits, green vegetables, fish, flaxseeds, are beneficial inclusions in your diet. Coupling this with an active lifestyle and regular exercise, such as swimming or walking, can keep your joints mobile and strengthen the muscles surrounding them.
  • Physical therapy: Regular sessions of physical therapy can significantly improve joint function. It helps to improve your muscle movement thereby keeping your joints flexible. Your therapist may also suggest alternate ways to perform regular tasks and teach exercises that ease strain on joints.

However, it is important to note that not every case is the same. Expert diagnosis and treatment becomes necessary. Consulting a rheumatologist in London has never been easier, and their expertise can help improve your quality of life so you can be pain-free.

Living with rheumatoid arthritis

We understand that living with rheumatoid arthritis can be difficult, but you are not alone in this journey. Thankfully, advances in medical treatments, coupled with lifestyle changes, can lessen the symptoms of this disease effectively and halt its progress. Remember, the key here is early diagnosis and proactive management. With the right guidance from a healthcare professional, you too can regain your active and fulfilling life.

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