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Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Posted Dec 30 2012 6:16am

Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory type of arthritis, caused by a chronic autoimmune disease which attacks the joints and other body organs,  the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can differ from patient to patient, as well as the periods in which these symptoms occur and reoccur as well.

This is not the type of arthritis, which occurs with aging and wearing off of the joints. It can occur from an age as early as the 20’s. In many cases, the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are so different from one case to another, and at the same time similar to those of other illnesses, that it is very hard to be diagnosed properly. Even X-rays and laboratory tests are not entirely consistent in the case of rheumatic arthritis.

Basic symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis

Usually, the early symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include: feeling flu-like symptoms together with extreme fatigue, accompanied with a longer-lasting morning stiffness and joint pain – usually in both symmetrical joints simultaneously. The pain and swelling of a joint may occur slowly and gradually increase over time. Usually, the smallest joints are the ones affected first by this chronic disease. Then, unfortunately, the symptoms usually develop and the number of joints and body organs affected increases.

Usually, the joints affected are the middle and base joints of the fingers and the base joints of the toes, as well as the wrists, shoulders, elbows, knees and ankles.
Recent studies have shown that people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis are at a greater risk of suffering from blood clots.  Even though a direct correlation between the two conditions, according to the Swedish study published in the Journal of American Medical Association, there exists a connection between the two. This risk seems to increase, in the cases when the patients are hospitalized for treatment of their rheumatoid arthritis.  The study found that from the 45,000 Swedes with rheumatoid arthritis, and others without the disease, about 2.2 percent suffered a blood clot, as compared to 1.1 percent of those without the disease. The danger of a blood clot forming in the veins of the thigh, leg or other part is that with the circulation of blood it may reach the lungs or heart, and cause heart attack, stroke or pulmonary embolism, which is in most cases fatal.  The Swedish study though ensures people affected with rheumatoid arthritis not to worry too much, because the cases found were in the most part after a year in hospital.  Again, other scientists from the US argue that the blood clots may be forming as a result of general inactivity, smoking and genetic factors.

Summary of the main symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis

The main symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include the following typical ones:

  • A long-lasting morning stiffness
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Depression
  • The swelling and pain in the joints, especially in symmetrical joints on both sides of the body
  • Seemingly hard to heal joint injuries
  • Tingling and numbness of the hands and arms – especially at night
  • Anemia
  • Foot pain which may be mistaken as a result of uncomfortable shoes
  • A low fever (99-100°F)
  • Nodular lumps
  • Dry and red eyes
  • Dryness of the throat, nose and skin
  • Hoarse voice
  • Locked elbow or knee joints in cases of severe swelling
  • Weight loss resulting from lack of appetite.
  • Red and puffy hands

Unfortunately, rheumatoid arthritis, even though the symptoms occur periodically and sporadically, affects the entire human body, including: the lungs, the lung pleura, the heart sac, the voice box, the eyes, and may cause inflammations in certain glands, and the appearance of lumps under the skin.

Some optimistic news for people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis has come out, that a study which is in its early stages, has shown that fish oils and marine omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids can help slow down and reduce the development, and will decrease the severity of the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis, and relieve the condition of those affected. The scientists engaged in this study have claimed that “Evidence is seen for a fairly consistent, but modest, benefit of marine n-3 PUFAs on joint swelling and pain, duration of morning stiffness, global assessments of pain and disease activity, and use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs” according to the information published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Diet to relieve the rheumatic arthritis symptoms

 

Even though this news is truly optimistic for those affected by this painful disease, unfortunately there is no cure for it, but there are means to manage rheumatoid arthritis and alleviate the pain. Of course, there is various medication – both topical and oral or other, as well as medical procedures, which will help the patients with this disease, but here are some general tips, which have been found to help reduce the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis:

First of all, the patient must do everything possible to lose any extra weight they may have, which of course will lower the weight and pressure on the joints.

Consume a lot of omega-3 fatty acids – in the form of salmon, sardines, Spanish mackerel, tuna and other marine sources. This will alleviate and control the symptoms.

Another study has shown that following the so-called Mediterranean diet, including: fruits, cereals, olive oil, vegetables, legumes also has a positive effect on people with rheumatoid arthritis.

To strengthen the joints and reduce the swelling, try consuming more antioxidants, like those in green peas, broccoli, bell peppers, etc. and try to stay away from meat altogether.

Take fish oil, selenium and Vitamin E, which are crucial for alleviating rheumatoid arthritis and are even said to lower the destruction level of the joints in the long-term.

Avoid any foods you are allergic to, because allergies are found to increase the swelling, pain and overall joint inflammation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Have a healthy and active lifestyle to alleviate the symptoms of rheumatic arthritis.

As well as the food you eat, and despite of the pain and discomfort you may be feeling, exercising is crucial for rheumatoid arthritis patients. Walking, yoga, swimming and tai chi are perfect for people affected with this condition, who need to keep their joints active, flexible and moving.

Other tips to stay well is engaging in physical and occupation therapy, getting massages and acupuncture – all of course performed by professionals, as well as mental help, such as cognitive therapy and counseling.  Taking baths and showers, with hot and cold water also may alleviate the pain and reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

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