Rheumatoid Arthritis Unveiled: What You Need to Know

Exploring the In's and Out's of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis The Inside Scoop

If you’re familiar with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), then you know the pain, swelling, and stiffness that come with it. But have you ever wondered what causes these symptoms, how to treat them, and if alternative therapies can help? Well, worry no more! In this article, we’ll break down all things RA and provide you with expert insights from Stanley B. Cohen, MD, a renowned rheumatology specialist.

RA: More Than Just Joint Troubles

“People with untreated rheumatoid arthritis who have ongoing, active inflammation have a higher risk of cardiovascular outcomes, similar to diabetics,” says Dr. Cohen. But don’t be disheartened—there’s good news too! The focus of RA treatment has shifted towards managing inflammation, hypertension, and elevated cholesterol, which has led to a reduction in premature death risk. So, the mortality rates for RA patients are now more similar to the normal population.

Lifestyle Habits: The Secret Sauce for RA Relief

Did you know that making simple lifestyle changes can significantly alleviate your RA symptoms? According to a recent iBioMed webinar poll, 31% of viewers found low-intensity exercises to be particularly helpful. Other popular choices included eating healthy foods (28%) and staying informed about RA (26%). Not smoking (9%) and having support from family and friends (7%) also made the list. So, if you’re looking for ways to ease your RA symptoms, try incorporating these habits into your daily routine.

All Your Burning Questions Answered!

Is the COVID vaccine linked to RA?

Rest assured, the COVID vaccine itself is not linked to RA. However, in rare cases, some individuals have developed new cases of RA and other inflammatory arthritis post-vaccination. The benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the risks, so if you have concerns, consult with your healthcare provider.

How does hydroxychloroquine work to help RA?

Hydroxychloroquine, a commonly used therapy for RA, works wonders by turning off your overactive immune system. It helps regulate your immune response, preventing the production of excessive antibodies that contribute to the development of the disease.

Do RA meds sometimes stop working after long-term use?

Yes, occasionally, RA medications may lose their effectiveness over time. However, there’s no need to worry. With various treatment options available, including cycling through therapies to achieve low disease activity, your healthcare provider will find the best solution for you.

Why does RA often lead to mental health issues?

Living with a chronic illness like RA can take a toll on your mental health. The physical limitations and decreased ability to perform daily activities can lead to anxiety and depression. So, don’t hesitate to seek treatment for both your mental and physical well-being. Remember, addressing mental health can enhance your overall RA management.

RA vs. Look-alikes: Other Health Conditions

RA isn’t the only condition that can cause similar symptoms. Psoriatic arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, and axial spondyloarthritis can all mimic RA. So, if you’re experiencing musculoskeletal pain and fatigue, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis.

During an RA flare, when should you hit pause?

When an RA flare strikes, your best move is to take a well-deserved rest. Avoid strenuous activities and inform your healthcare provider about your flare. They may adjust your treatment plan or prescribe a short course of steroids. Remember, a flare indicates that your current treatment regimen may need some fine-tuning.

Uncorking the Myths: Alcohol, Fasting, and Marijuana

Moderate alcohol consumption is generally safe for individuals with RA. So, go ahead and enjoy that occasional glass of wine or beer. As for intermittent fasting, although there’s no long-term impact on RA confirmed by data, it may aid in weight reduction, which can be beneficial for those who are overweight or obese.

While we don’t have data to support the use of medical marijuana in reducing inflammation associated with RA, it may offer pain relief, reduce stress, and alleviate anxiety. As with any treatment, discuss its usage with your healthcare provider.

Unraveling the Mysteries: Who Gets RA?

The exact cause of RA remains unclear, but certain factors increase your risk. Genetics play a significant role, particularly genes involved in regulating the immune system. Environmental factors like infections, smoking, and exposure to silica can also trigger the disease. In fact, if you have the genetic makeup for RA and you’re a smoker, your risk for developing RA skyrockets 20- to 40-fold!

Conquering RA: The Treatment Journey

While RA isn’t curable, there are many effective treatments available. The goals of treatment are to prevent joint damage, reduce inflammation, alleviate symptoms, and achieve remission. From NSAIDs and steroids to DMARDs and biologics, various medications can bring you relief. But remember, lifestyle changes are equally important. Incorporating physical therapy, occupational therapy, quitting smoking, healthy eating, social support, stress reduction, and low-impact exercises into your routine can significantly improve your quality of life.

Save the Date: Be Informed, Stay Ahead!

To delve deeper into the world of RA treatment and management, make sure to catch the replay of the insightful iBioMed webinar, “Ins and Outs of Rheumatoid Arthritis.” And don’t miss out on the other free iBioMed webinars featuring leading experts on a wide range of topics. Stay informed, stay empowered!

iBioMed Feature© 2023 iBioMed, LLC. All rights reserved.