Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation in the lining of your joints, leading to swelling and pain.
Research into RA, medications, and effective therapy persists as there is no cure for the condition. This chronic inflammatory disorder requires a medical diagnosis. Are you familiar with RA?
Here are some quick facts:
- RA is different from osteoarthritis.
- RA impacts 1.5 million people in the U.S.
- Diagnosing RA is difficult.
- Smoking may trigger RA.
- RA diagnoses are rising among women.
- RA is linked to many other diseases.
Many patients struggling with RA don’t realize that they have many options when it comes to treatment plans. Because many doctors are not well-versed in managing chronic diseases, especially one like RA, it can be hard for patients to get an idea of what their possibilities are.
If you are living with RA, have just been diagnosed, or have a loved one dealing with the condition, then this article is for you. Read on as we break down what RA is, what you can do about it, and how we can help!
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
One reason why RA can be tricky to diagnose and treat is because it affects everyone differently. However, there are many uniform characteristics and symptoms to look out for.
We know RA causes inflammation that can cause your joints to get red, warm, swollen, and cause pain. RA can affect joints on both sides of the body – like both knees, both hands, etc.
Typically, this symmetry is what can help doctors set it apart from other types of arthritis. Why is it so important to recognize the difference between RA and other types of arthritis? Eventually, RA can impact other body parts and systems such as the eyes, skin, blood vessels, heart, and more.
Joint problems are often the first thing that patients recognize and may experience pain in the knees, wrists, and hands. However, some other symptoms that may appear can include:
- Stiffness, especially in the morning or after sitting for extended periods
- Joint pain and swelling
- Dry mouth and gums are more easily irritated or infected
- Patient may become anemic
- Shortness of breath due to inflamed lungs
RA looks different for everyone, which is why speaking with your doctor about your risks, symptoms, and concerns is essential.
Rheumatoid arthritis can stem from any number of issues ranging from hormonal imbalances, our body’s response to trauma and stress, environmental toxins like cigarette smoke, or even silica in the workplace.
There are many reasons why you may be dealing with RA, walk through your health history with your doctor for a better idea of what’s behind your symptoms.
How is Rheumatoid Arthritis Treated?
The sooner, the better. When it comes to RA, time is crucial. The earlier RA is diagnosed and the more aggressively it’s treated, the more likely patients can have positive outcomes. The problem with RA is the possibility of joint damage; once the disease causes damage to your joints it cannot be reversed.
There is no current cure for RA, yet research into medications and different treatment options continue. Treating RA looks different for everyone, but may consist of a combination of OTC medications, various therapies, and lifestyle changes like a healthy diet, proper rest, stress management, and regular exercise can help improve your quality of life.
Your team of medical professionals will also work with you to find treatments that tackle inflammation and reduce pain. Keep reading to find out more about these and other ways to relieve your RA pain.
Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis at Living Well Dallas
At Living Well, Dallas, we aim to do more than just name a disease and prescribe blanket treatments to our patients. We dig deep to uncover the root cause of health concerns and then collaborate with our patients to personalize treatments.
We combine the best of functional medicine, nutrition, and mind-body techniques with conventional treatments to treat the root cause. Our Rheumatology services offer you a personalized, focused experience, including functional medicine and mind-body-services, whether you choose to visit us seeking help in obtaining a diagnosis or in finding treatment solutions.
When addressing RA and autoimmune diseases, conventional medicine will generally follow an anti-inflammatory approach. This is important and can help curb symptoms, but only temporarily. Functional medicine allows us to go further and often help patients avoid the pain of side effects from new medications.
We never treat the symptoms; we look at the big picture and strive for long-term health. For example, in one patient, it may be an issue stemming from their digestive system while another may be struggling with emotional distress. These are vastly different issues that require different approaches, treatments, and possibly medication.
If you want to learn more about how we work with our patients to overcome RA, let’s talk! Schedule your consultation with our rheumatologist, Dr. Scheinost.
Things You Can Do to Improve Your RA at Home
As we mentioned earlier, RA must be diagnosed, and a care plan should be led by a professional. However, there are plenty of things you can do now to lower your risk or even lessen symptoms without any training or doctor’s visits. Here are some things you should be doing at home to take care of your RA:
- Exercise: Many patients feel this is counterproductive because if you’re in pain, why would you want to move around? Makes sense, but according to www.arthritis.org, exercise is beneficial for patients with RA as it can “strengthen muscles that support your painful joints, preserve and increase joint range of motion, improve sleep quality, boost your mood and sense of well-being and help you lose excess pounds that add stress to joints.”
- Rest: We know, we know – we just told you to be active! However, as with any chronic condition, the most important thing you can do is to find balance. If you can be active and exercise regularly, make sure you balance that out with plenty of rest. Take breaks when necessary, and make good sleep a top priority.
- Be Informed: Living with a chronic condition, especially RA, is not impossible, but it does require being organized and staying informed. Maintaining a close relationship with your physician, tracking symptoms, pain levels, medications, and noting possible side effects will ensure that your treatment path is effective.
Living with RA doesn’t have to be complicated, but it can be made easier with an expert’s help! If you’re ready to take control of your rheumatoid arthritis and live your life fully, let’s talk. Give us a call, and we’ll go through a phone consultation to ensure we pair you with the best provider for your needs.
Connect With Our Team
Get in touch with our team today to learn how we can benefit you and lead the path to optimal health. Schedule your consultation with Living Well Dallas.
Together, we’ll collaborate on your health to find the best solution for your unique health needs and goals. Let’s restore health and live fully!