What is Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Anyway?

RA is an autoimmune inflammatory disorder that affects the synovial joints in the hands and feet. This arthritis affects the lining of your joints. This begins to swell the area and cause pain. Eventually it causes the joints to deform. It can also feel like muscle soreness, fatigue and fever.

Women are 3x as likely as men to get RA. The most common ages where the signs of RA begin are from the age of 40 to 60. There are treatments that can help with the symptoms of RA. Here is a list of common symptoms:

  1. Joint pain and swelling
  2. Joints are tender when pushed on
  3. Hands are discolored (red) and puffy
  4. Firm bumps may occur under the skin on the arm
  5. Fatigue
  6. Morning stiffness that lingers throughout the day
  7. Fever
  8. Weight loss

Where is RA going to hit first?
It tends to go after the small joints first. Hand/fingers, wrists, ankles, feet/toes. After a few years it may move to the larger joints such as the shoulder, knees, elbows, hips, jaw and neck. It also occurs on both sides of the body, meaning if one shoulder is affected so with the other shoulder.

Symptoms aren’t always present
Severity may differ for each individual and there are times when arthritis feels fine and other times when there are “flare ups”. This is dependent on the activity, foods and weather. Stay away from “nightshade foods” such as eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes. These are inflammatory foods and can trigger a flare up.  There are also other foods that can be inflammatory to the body in general that are not talked about but can inflame the organs, tissues and joints.  Bad carbs like wheat, rice, pasta and processed sugar all influence the bodies inflammatory response.  Low amounts of these foods could reduce inflammatory episodes.

What are the risk factors of RA?

  1. Sex (women 3x more likely to develop RA than men)
  2. Age (40-60 years)
  3. Genetics (if your parents had it, you have a high chance of getting it)
  4. Smoking

You can still lead an active life with RA. Again, stay away from inflammatory foods, keep fit and take Omega 3 (fish oil). Soft tissue work along with stretching has shown great results in my office. Realize that you may not function at 100% but you can still be active.