You spend hours hunched over a keyboard on data entry tasks at work, and your wrists have been hurting for months. Your fingers feel warm to the touch after hours of typing. Maybe it’s just fatigue, or it could be something else – rheumatoid arthritis.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
“Rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease, which means that your immune system attacks healthy cells in your body by mistake, causing inflammation (painful swelling) in the affected parts of the body.”
RA focuses on the joints, generally many joints at the same time. Rheumatoid arthritis commonly impacts joints in your wrists, hands, and knees. For someone with RA, the lining of a joint can become inflamed, causing damage to joint tissue.
Know the symptoms
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can include:
- Tender, heated, swollen joints
- Joint stiffness that usually worsens during the mornings and after prolonged inactivity
- Fatigue, running a temperature, lack of appetite
Early rheumatoid arthritis has been known to affect smaller joints first, especially those that connect your fingers to hands and toes to your feet. As the disease progresses, symptoms can spread throughout the rest of your body but can be treated with ketamine therapy.
What are the causes?
The exact trigger of RA is unknown. It’s an autoimmune disorder, meaning your body’s immune system attacks healthy cells and tissues. This results in inflammation inside and encircling the joints. This may harm your skeletal system. Rheumatoid arthritis can also damage other organs, including the heart and lungs. Some researchers think factors like heredity may be a potential cause. For instance, particular genes that you’re born with can predispose you to get rheumatoid arthritis.
Who gets it?
Rheumatoid arthritis most often happens between the ages of 30 and 50, but it can occur at any age and in more women than men. Other characteristics which may increase the risk:
- Age. The beginning of RA is most pronounced among adults 60 and older.
- Genetics and inherited traits. People born with HLA (human leukocyte antigen) class II genotypes are at greater risk of getting RA, and this gene can make your condition more painful over time.
Impact of Rheumatoid Arthritis
RA is rare, affecting about 1.3 million adults in America. However, just having it may predispose you to other equally or more serious health conditions.
- Osteoporosis. Rheumatoid arthritis alone, when paired with some medicines for treating the condition, can boost your chance of osteoporosis – a condition known to weaken bones and make them susceptible to fracture.
- Dry mouth and eyes. People with RA are at a greater risk of getting Sjogren’s syndrome, an illness that reduces the quantity of moisture in your eyes and mouth.
- Infections. A cocktail of medications used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, and the condition itself, form a supervillain of sorts which can impair your immune system, leading to more infections. If you have RA, vaccinations are recommended to protect yourself against pneumonia, influenza, shingles, and COVID-19.
- Abnormal body composition, with some people – even those with a normal body mass index – having a higher proportion of fat to lean mass.
- If rheumatoid arthritis hurts your wrists, the inflammation may compress nerves that aid much of your hand and fingers, resulting in painful carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Heart problems, which may increase due to hardened and blocked arteries. Rheumatoid arthritis can also boost your chance of inflammation of the sac enclosing your heart.
- RA sufferers are also at risk of lung disease and lymphoma.
- Many people with rheumatoid arthritis have tiredness, trouble sleeping, and exhaustion. All these side effects of the condition can greatly affect your quality of life.
Symptoms from some of these can be treated with ketamine.
Diagnosis & treatment
Rheumatoid Arthritis is diagnosed when a medical professional (particularly someone who specializes in RA diagnosis and treatment) reviews symptoms, conducts a physical examination, and after x-rays and other tests. Ideally, RA should be diagnosed early – about six months after symptoms start – allowing someone with the disease to start treatment to slow down or halt disease progression (for example, how it can damage your joints). Diagnosis and effective actions, mostly efforts to overpower or control inflammation, can help minimize the damaging effects of RA on your body.
Treatment often involves medicine, self-help strategies, diet, and new option like ketamine therapy.
Rheumatoid arthritis is rare but can happen to anyone. If you suspect you’re having pain symptoms that linger for months, see a medical professional who specializes in RA. Proper diagnosis arms you and your healthcare provider with information on the kinds of medicine, like ketamine, which effectively treats your symptoms.