Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system. Not to mention, which normally protects its health by attacking foreign substances. Such as bacteria and viruses mistakenly attacking the joints.
In general, patients can expect that the Rheumatoid Arthritis life expectancy could be shortened by roughly 10 years. To as many as 15 years.
In a recent discovery, detailed in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatology, researchers confirmed a major breakthrough.
That a compound in green tea may offer a potential new approach to combating joint pain. In particular to the inflammation and tissue damage caused by rheumatoid arthritis.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system – which normally protects its health by attacking foreign substances like bacteria and viruses – mistakenly attacks the joints.
This creates inflammation that causes the tissue that lines the inside of joints (the synovium) to thicken, resulting in swelling and pain in and around the joints. The synovium makes a fluid that lubricates joints and helps them move smoothly.
An autoimmune disorder, rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body’s tissues. Unlike the wear-and-tear damage of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of your joints. Causing a painful swelling that can eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity.
The inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis is what can damage other parts of the body as well. While new types of medications have improved treatment options dramatically, severe rheumatoid arthritis can still cause physical disabilities.
Who is Affected by Rheumatoid Arthritis?
About 1.5 million people in the United States have rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Nearly three times as many women have the disease as men.
For example, in women, RA most commonly begins between ages 30 and 60. Whereas, in men, it often occurs later in life. Having a family member with RA increases the odds of having RA.
However, the majority of people with RA have no family history of the disease. Because RA also can affect body systems, such as the cardiovascular or respiratory systems, it is called a systemic disease. Systemic means “entire body.”
What are the Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis?
In the early stages, people with RA may not initially see redness or swelling in the joints, but they may experience tenderness and pain. Generally, the following joint symptoms are clues to RA. Such as;
- Joint pain, tenderness, swelling or stiffness for six weeks or longer
- Morning stiffness for 30 minutes or longer
- More than one joint is affected
- Small joints (wrists, certain joints of the hands and feet) are affected
- The same joints on both sides of the body are affected
Along with pain, many people experience fatigue, loss of appetite and a low-grade fever. However, the symptoms and effects of RA may come and go.
A period of high disease activity (increases in inflammation and other symptoms) is called a flare. A flare can last for days or months.
Ongoing high levels of inflammation can cause problems throughout the body.
Here of some ways, RA can affect organs and body systems:
- Eyes. Dryness, pain, redness, sensitivity to light and impaired vision
- Mouth. Dryness and gum irritation or infection
- Skin. Rheumatoid nodules – small lumps under the skin over bony areas
- Lungs. Inflammation and scarring that can lead to shortness of breath
- Blood Vessels. Inflammation of blood vessels that can lead to damage in the nerves, skin and other organs
- Blood. Anemia, a lower than normal number of red blood cells
What are the Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Surprisingly, the causes of RA are not yet fully understood. Although doctors do know that an abnormal response of the immune system plays a leading role. Especially in the inflammation and joint damage that occurs.
With this in mind, no one knows for sure why the immune system goes awry. Even though there is scientific evidence that genes, hormones, and environmental factors are involved.
Additionally, researchers have shown that people with a specific genetic marker called the HLA shared epitope have a fivefold greater chance.
In that case, of developing rheumatoid arthritis than do people without the marker. Furthermore, the HLA genetic site controls immune responses.
Other genes connected to RA include;
- STAT4, a gene that plays important roles in the regulation and activation of the immune system;
- TRAF1 and C5, two genes relevant to chronic inflammation;
- and PTPN22, a gene associated with both the development and progression of rheumatoid arthritis.
Yet not all people with these genes develop RA and not all people with the condition have these genes. Read more about the RH Causes.
What are the Risks of Rheumatoid Arthritis?
If the inflammation goes unchecked, it can damage cartilage, the elastic tissue that covers the ends of bones in a joint, as well as the bones themselves. Over time, there is the loss of cartilage, and the joint spacing between bones can become smaller.
In reality, joints can become loose, unstable, painful and lose their mobility. Joint deformity also can occur. Joint damage cannot be reversed, and because it can occur early, doctors recommend early diagnosis and aggressive treatment to control RA.
Rheumatoid arthritis most commonly affects the joints of the hands, feet, wrists, elbows, knees, and ankles. The joint effect is usually symmetrical.
What are the Remedies of Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Self-care, or self-management, means taking a proactive role in the treatment and maintaining a good quality of life.
Here are some ways you can manage RA symptoms (along with recommended medication) and promote overall health.
1. Anti-inflammatory Diet and Healthy Eating
While there is no specific “diet” for RA, researchers have identified certain foods that are rich in antioxidants and can help control and reduce inflammation.
Many of them are part of the so-called Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes fish, vegetables, fruits, and olive oil, among other healthy foods.
It’s also important to eliminate or significantly reduce processed and fast foods that fuel inflammation.
2. Balancing Activity with Rest
Rest is important when RA is active and joints feel painful, swollen or stiff. Rest helps reduce inflammation and fatigue that can come with a flare.
Taking breaks throughout the day conserves energy and protects joints.
3. Physical Activity
For people with RA, exercise is so beneficial it’s considered the main part of RA treatment. The exercise program should emphasize low-impact aerobics, muscle strengthening, and flexibility.
The program should be tailored to fitness level and capabilities, and take into account any joint damage that exists. A physical therapist can help to design an exercise program.
4. Heat and Cold Therapies
Heat treatments, such as heat pads or warm baths, tend to work best for soothing stiff joints and tired muscles. Cold is best for acute pain. It can numb painful areas and reduce inflammation.
5. Topical Treatments
These treatments are applied directly to the skin over the painful muscle or joint. They may be creams or patches.
Depending on the type used, it may contain nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), salicylates or capsaicin, which help reduce pain.
6. Natural and Alternative Therapies
Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, guided imagery and visualization can help train painful muscles to relax. Research shows massage can help reduce arthritis pain, improve joint function and ease stress and anxiety.
Acupuncture may also be helpful. This involves inserting fine needles into the body along with special points called “meridians” to relieve pain. Those who fear needles might consider acupressure, which involves applying pressure, instead of needles, at those points.
Studies have shown that turmeric and omega-3 fish oil supplements may help with rheumatoid arthritis pain and morning stiffness.
However, talk with a doctor before taking any supplement to discuss side effects and potential interactions. Many studies have demonstrated that resilience, an ability to “bounce back,“ encourages a positive outlook.
Having a network of friends, family members and co-workers can help provide emotional support. It can help a patient with RA cope with life changes and pain.
In a recent discovery, detailed in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatology, researchers confirmed that a compound in green tea may offer a potential new approach to combating the joint pain, inflammation and tissue damage caused by rheumatoid arthritis.
The researchers confirmed their findings in a preclinical animal model of human rheumatoid arthritis. Where they observed that ankle swelling in animals given the compound in a 10-day treatment plan was markedly reduced.
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