If you or someone you know is suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, you’re not alone. Each year, out of 100,000 people, 54 suffer from this specific type of arthritis alone. However, this isn’t a disease without hope. Although there is no formal cure, there are many different types of rheumatoid arthritis treatments used to make many of the symptoms if not go away, then make them much less bothersome.
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis aren’t always easy to spot. Many times, patients go undiagnosed because they don’t feel like their symptoms are severe enough to be taken to the doctor. Some symptoms come and go as they please, depending on how severe the inflammation in your tissue and joints are. Once your body tissue becomes inflamed (swollen), rheumatoid arthritis becomes active. When the inflammation diminishes, the disease then goes into remission, where symptoms fade. Then, when the inflammation occurs again, so do the symptoms. This important factor makes rheumatoid arthritis go easily undiagnosed because its victims are constantly going through cycles of feeling bad and then feeling better, then back again.
Most people affected by rheumatoid arthritis complain of a pain in their wrists or hands. This makes opening things like pickle jars or peanut butter containers extremely painful. It also makes it difficult to turn doorknobs without feeling a sharp pain in your knuckles. On rare occasions, rheumatoid arthritis can affect the joint that’s in charge of tightening your vocal cords in order to change the tone of your voice. Once that joint is inflamed, it most likely results in hoarseness of the voice or even loss of voice altogether.
While active, symptoms include, but are not limited to, fever, stiffness, muscle aches, joint aches, lack of appetite, decrease energy, fatigue, swollen joints, or a redness of the skin around the affected joint. The reason for the soreness and redness is due to the lining of tissue around the affected joint. When the tissue becomes inflamed again, your body produces excess amounts of something called synovial fluid (also known as joint fluid). This makes your joints thicken with inflammation and that makes your joints sore and red.
As far as treatments go, there is no formal cure - but fortunately in the past few years, scientists have been making significant steps toward a viable treatment. There may be some types of drugs out there that claim to cure rheumatoid arthritis, but sadly, most of them don’t work. See your doctor to be absolutely sure what you can and cannot take. They should also be able to provide you with a list of things you can do to decrease the severity of the symptoms, so don’t be afraid to ask.
Be careful with taking many of the over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, Advil, Motrin, Medipren, or Ibuprofen. All of those medications are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (also known as NSAIDs,) and it might be easy to take too much of these medications seeking relief to your pain. Again, see your doctor if needed.
Yes, there’s a lot to learn about living with arthritis. Getting in control might take some time. It’s going to mean making some changes in your life, but you can start with small changes, and you don’t have to make them all at once. Try to stay positive and work with your doctor to find the right combination of treatments. And you don’t have to do it alone.
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