Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common type of arthritis and it is an autoimmune disease that affects that 1% of the whole earth population, which is equivalent to over 75 million people, which are suffering from this disease. It is chronic, which means long-lasting disease with intermittent periods of remission and exacerbation. It is mistakenly known that this disease only affects the joints of the small hands and fingers, but that is false because it can affect other joints and organs as well, including the heart and soft tissues. That is why it is important to understand rheumatoid arthritis, its symptoms, causes, how to recognize it and treat it before the disease reaches its irreversible stages.
Coping with Invisible Symptoms
RA is often not a visible disease. Most symptoms like joint pain and stiffness, overwhelming exhaustion, low-grade fevers, and malaise (a general feeling of unwellness) are “invisible.” Meaning, others cannot tell that you are suffering when they look at you.
Coping with an invisible disease like RA is often frustrating and may trigger feelings of depression and isolation. Besides addressing symptoms under the care of your doctor, it’s helpful to engage in acts of self-care.
For instance, regular exercise has been found to help ease RA-related fatigue and prevent loss of joint motion. Exercise also releases “feel good” chemicals called endorphins, improves muscle strength, and reduces bone loss. If your joint symptoms make physical activity difficult, ask your doctor for a referral to a physical therapist. They can help devise a gentle exercise program that is tailored to your needs and symptoms.
In fact, research suggests that consuming omega-3 fatty acids can help calm joint inflammation in patients with RA. Foods rich in omega-3 include fatty fish (like mackerel and salmon), walnuts, and flax seeds. Of course, be safe and check in with your doctor or nutritionist first before changing your diet.
Lastly, since stress can negatively impact your RA symptoms, try to take time each day to relax and unwind. Consider taking a warm bath, calling a friend, or practicing yoga, meditation, or guided imagery.
All said, don’t get down if your strategies sometimes fail you. Remain motivated but also be kind to yourself. If you need to rest for a few days, allow yourself to do that.
Rheumatologists are the type of doctor most patients seek treatment from. It’s a debilitating disease in the advanced stages that can truly wreak havoc on your hands. Daily self-care is a very important part of taking care of yourself. If you have symptoms of RA please contact a doctor right away, the earlier the better.
To better health.