Many people assume their joint pain is regular osteoarthritis but rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is something to be considered. It is an autoimmune condition that mostly affects joints causing a lot of pain, swelling and inflammation.
RA is very different from the arthritis of wear and tear, overuse and age. Keep reading to learn five facts about this disease.
1) It’s a systemic disease.
This means it not only affects your joints, but it can also affect your skin, lungs, heart, kidneys and eyes.
2) There are blood tests available.
If your health care provider suspects RA, there are two blood tests that can be done. Most common is the rheumatoid factor and the cyclic-citrullinated peptide. If this test is positive, follow up with a rheumatologist is highly suggested as you most likely have rheumatoid arthritis.
However, if the tests are negative but your symptoms are positive, your blood tests might be a false negative. In this case, your health care provider may recommend X-rays of your inflamed joints to evaluate for damage and joint changes.
3) It often progresses which is concerning and can cause serious damage and disfigurement to joints.
4) While there is no one known cause, it is strongly associated with certain genes (meaning it’s passed down through the family), certain infections (like the herpes virus and Epstein-Barr virus), and is worsened by smoking.
5) There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis.
However a keynote to treatment is to reduce inflammation in the body and calm the immune system. This is often accomplished through various medications, vitamins and supplements, diet and lifestyle changes to support the body and lower inflammation.
If you experience arthritis that is worsening, creating pain/inflammation/swelling in your joints, or if you have a family history of rheumatoid arthritis, talk to your health care provider today about the possibility for RA and if testing is right for you.
1) Rheumatoid Arthritis. Web. 16 Feb. 2012.
2) Rheumatoid Arthritis. Web. 16 Feb. 2012.