Rheumatoid Arthritis

5 Simple Ways to Differentiate Rheumatoid Arthritis From Fibromyalgia

After waking up in the morning, you notice feeling exhausted despite getting a good night of rest. You also notice your joints are feeling more swollen and stiffer. Even your muscles feel a little achier than usual.  These symptoms may be related, or they could be completely separate. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and fibromyalgia (FM) both present with similar symptoms, such as pain, stiffness, and fatigue. But they are two different conditions. These are easy to confuse because they have many similarities, but each condition has different causes and a unique set of symptoms that differentiates one from the other. What Are the Symptoms of RA and Fibromyalgia? Rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia are two different conditions, but with some similar symptoms. Symptoms that are common to both conditions include: Chronic pain Sleep disturbances  Fatigue and tiredness Depression and anxiety While these symptoms are the same, the causes and the way people experience them often differ. Pain Pain is a common symptom of many conditions, especially ones like rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. However, the cause of pain for each condition is different. RA is an inflammatory autoimmune disease that manifests in joints of the hands, wrists, and knees. Joint pain often occurs …

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8 Easy Ways to Improve Your Diet to Help Manage Rheumatoid Arthritis

Stiffness, pain, and swelling are just a few common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and are often some of the most difficult to manage. The progression of these three symptoms is usually a sign that the disease is getting worse. Visibly swollen or tender joints, symmetrical pain, and increased stiffness are all signs of progression to later stages of RA.  The connection between these three symptoms is inflammation. There is no single method to combat inflammation, but there are several lifestyle modifications you can make to help reduce it, like following an anti-inflammatory diet.  A study published in Arthritis Research and Therapy found that patients with rheumatoid arthritis have significantly more pro-inflammatory diets and that those who were able to follow a diet associated with less inflammation over the course of 6 years also maintained lower disease activity. Another study looked at how diets impacted levels of pain in RA patients. The study concluded that anti-inflammatory diets resulted in significantly lower pain compared to ordinary diets.  What’s the Link Between Inflammation and RA? Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and damages its own healthy cells. With RA, the immune system targets the soft tissue that lines the surface of …

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6 Treatment Options for Rheumatoid Arthritis

If you’ve been living with rheumatoid arthritis, you know that the symptoms can be unpredictable. You may feel good one day and have a flare-up the next. It’s not possible to eliminate RA symptoms, but several treatment options are available that can help you manage them.   The first line of treatment for rheumatoid arthritis is usually medication. However, physical and occupational therapy can also be effective for symptom management and improving quality of life. Surgery can help reduce pain and improve functioning.  Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)  Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are one of the most common treatment options for RA. They can help relieve RA pain, swelling, and inflammation. NSAIDs do not change the course of the disease or prevent joint destruction and are often used in conjunction with disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDS).  NSAIDs work on a chemical level in the body. They block cyclooxygenase (COX), an enzyme the body uses to make naturally occurring fatty acids called prostaglandins that play a role in pain and inflammation. Most NSAIDs block COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes, while some only block COX-2. These are known as COX-2 inhibitors.   Common NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), and naproxen (Aleve). Many NSAIDs are available over the counter and stronger ones are available as prescriptions.   Although NSAIDs are generally safe, they do have some side effects. These include:   Stomach …

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5 Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most common forms of arthritis, affecting 1.3 million adults in the United States. It’s an autoimmune disease, meaning the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells in the body instead of protecting them. A healthy immune system protects against germs and sends fighter cells to attack them. But with autoimmune diseases, the immune system treats normal cells like foreign cells and releases autoantibodies that attack healthy cells. Autoantibodies are antibodies that mistakenly target a person’s own tissue or organs. Experts are unsure about what causes autoimmune diseases, but one theory is that microorganisms like bacteria and viruses trigger changes that confuse the immune system.   When you have RA, the immune system sends antibodies to the lining of your joints. The antibodies then attack the tissue surrounding the joints. This causes soreness and inflammation in the layer of cells, called the synovium, that covers your joints. The synovium releases chemicals that can damage bones, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons. If left untreated, these chemicals can cause the joint to lose its shape and alignment. Over time, these chemicals can destroy the joint completely.   RA is 2.5 times more common in women than men. While it can develop at any age, it most commonly occurs in people between the ages of 20 and 50. Late-onset RA or elderly-onset RA occurs when it develops in people between the ages of 60 and 65.  Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include:  Joint stiffness that is often worse in the morning or after periods of inactivity  Joint pain …

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13 Easy Ways to Minimize Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms

If you’re living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), you know that the symptoms often flare up at inconvenient times. It can be difficult to do everyday activities when you’re dealing with the pain, stiffness, and other symptoms that come with the disease. Fortunately, there are lifestyle changes you can make and some home remedies you can try to help minimize your symptoms throughout the day.  What is rheumatoid arthritis?  Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease that affects more than 1.3 million Americans. The immune system makes antibodies that attack bacteria and viruses to fight infection. But when you have RA, your immune system mistakenly sends those antibodies to the healthy lining of your joints and attacks the tissue surrounding the joints. As a result, the thin layer of cells called synovium that covers your joints becomes sore and inflamed.   RA primarily affects the joints, especially joints in the hands, wrists, and knees. In severe cases, RA can attack internal organs like the lungs, heart, and kidneys.   The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown. However, evidence has shown that autoimmune conditions run in families. There may be certain genes you are born with that make you more likely to get RA. …

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