Managing Rheumatoid Arthritis

You spend hours a day at your computer, making the same motions with your hands over and over – often leading to stiffness and pain. But you’re getting older, so maybe that’s triggering the pain following hours of repetition. Or perhaps it’s rheumatoid arthritis, but fortunately, the symptoms can be treated.

What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

According to MedlinePlus, “Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a form of arthritis that causes pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of function in your joints. It can affect any joint but is common in the wrist and fingers.”

Women get it more often than women. RA usually begins during middle age and is widespread in older adults. It may only last a short time with occasional symptoms, but a more severe form could persist for a lifetime.

Facts About RA

  • Rheumatoid arthritis harms more than 1.3 million people in the United States.
  • It’s more than twice as likely in women as in men.
  • There are more than 200,000 cases reported in the U.S. every year. 
  • It usually happens in people between 20 and 50 years old, but young children and the elderly can also get RA.

According to a 2021 study by the World Health Organization, nearly 14 million people worldwide have rheumatoid arthritis.

Know The Symptoms

Pain and fatigue associated with rheumatoid arthritis symptoms can sometimes be treated with ketamine or other pain management strategies. Common symptoms may include:

  • The experience of painful, warm, swollen joints
  • Joint stiffness which is usually worse in the mornings or following inactivity
  • Fatigue, fever, and lack of appetite

Early rheumatoid arthritis will often affect the smaller joints initially — especially the joints that connect your fingers with your hands and toes to your feet.

What Causes Rheumatoid Arthritis?

RA is an autoimmune disease. Your immune system is supposed to attack foreigners in your body, like bacteria and viruses, by creating inflammation. The immune system mistakenly sends inflammation to your healthy tissue in autoimmune diseases. The immune system creates a lot of inflammation that is sent to your joints, causing joint pain and swelling. If the inflammation remains present for a long period, it can cause damage to the joint.”

Managing Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Don’t ignore your pain. Some degree of soreness and stiffness is not unusual. But pain that persists longer than an hour following activity or makes joints swell means the activity was too demanding. Either alter your activity level or the way you do something to avoid causing worse pain.
  • Don’t get locked into a position, such as writing, doing crafts, or driving, and loosen your grip every 10 minutes or so. The same applies to watching television or computer usage – stand and move about every 30 minutes.
  • Find tools and utensils designed for someone with arthritis. This may include anti-vibration gloves, bigger barrel pens, and kitchen utensils to lower the pain triggered by grasping or pinching movements.
  • Don’t waste energy. Get equal amounts of rest and activity in daylight hours,  pace yourself, and add frequent short breaks to your routine. Rest before you get too sore or tired.
  • Soothe the ache by soaking hands or feet in warm or cool water to relieve joint pain and rigidity. Electrical stimulation may offer temporary pain relief for some people. 
  • Your doctor can provide a referral to a physical therapist or rehabilitation specialist for this treatment.
  • Ask about ketamine for RA.

Also, don’t forget the importance of getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, and remaining as physically active as possible. Maintaining a healthy weight can also reduce pressure on your joints. RA sufferers who smoke are advised to quit. Talk with your medical professional for other ideas about managing your joint pain.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Getting a precise diagnosis is the first step you can take to treat RA effectively. Your primary care doctor will likely refer you to a specialist in treating arthritis (a rheumatologist), as that’s the best person to offer an accurate diagnosis, using your medical history and results of a physical examination and lab tests. You may undergo blood tests (to reveal erythrocyte sedimentation rate and rheumatoid factor) and imaging tests like an x-ray, magnetic resonance imaging, or ultrasound to look for signs of erosion in bones and joints.

Managing RA often involves therapy and medicine for inflammation and swelling.

Final Thoughts

RA is a serious condition affecting the hands, knees, ankles, and even the eyes, heart, circulatory system, and lungs if not treated promptly. The symptoms are painful if ignored and can affect the quality of life without treatment. Ask your medical professional for treatment options, including newer ketamine therapy.