If you've recently been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, you're likely curious about what this means, and how it will affect your life moving forward. Read on for the answers.
Definition and Causes
Rheumatoid arthritis — commonly referred to as RA — is defined by the Mayo Clinic as a chronic inflammatory disorder that causes inflammation in the lining of the joints, resulting in pain and swelling. RA is an autoimmune disorder, meaning that the body's immune system turns on itself to attack its own tissue. If the disease is left untreated, even the internal organs can be affected.
Symptoms and Prognosis
The majority of RA patients usually present with pain or tenderness in the joints (usually the hands and feet). Other symptoms may include fatigue, fever, and weight loss.
While the condition is common (with more than 200,000 cases diagnosed per year) and treatable, there is no cure for RA.
Most of the time, the acute symptoms of RA can be treated with NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium. In severe cases, doctors may offer "quick fixes" in the form of corticosteroid shots (prednisone is one example), but this is inadvisable in the long-term due to an increased risk of side effects.
Following an anti-inflammatory diet, with an emphasis on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein, is also said to be helpful. Herbs and supplements such as turmeric and omega-3s are known to reduce inflammation, but speak with your doctor before trying these to avoid any harmful drug interaction.
For those who would prefer to treat their RA without pharmaceuticals, there are alternatives. Exercise and physical therapy — for example, the chiropractic treatments offered at Spinal Dynamic — are one such option. To learn if these are right for you, make an appointment at Spinal Dynamics by calling 208 888 0055 or filling out our contact form.