5 Facts About Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is considered a disease of the elderly, but in fact, it can begin at any age. Who is at risk, and what are the first symptoms to look for?

Dr. Vera

Head of Therapy Department

First symptoms

In its early stages, arthritis most often affects the joints of the wrists, hands, fingers and feet. Stiffness usually increases in the morning and subsides throughout the day. Due to inflammation in the body, sufferers also experience fatigue, loss of appetite and fever. Manifestations of arthritis may come and go. A person may feel fine for a few days or months and then experience pain and stiffness in the joints again.

Risk group

Rheumatoid arthritis is predisposed to: genetics, gender, age and lifestyle. 70 % of people with rheumatoid arthritis are women. And although the symptoms of this disease can appear at any age, they most often occur in those from 40-60 years old. Smokers and people who are overweight or obese are also at risk, as their joints experience an increased load. Additionally, infection, stress, physical trauma and even pregnancy can cause this autoimmune disease.

Get a checkup

Early and accurate diagnosis, as well as a personalized treatment plan, can help you manage the symptoms of the disease faster and get back to your normal life. The following tests can help identify the presence of rheumatoid arthritis:

  • Antibodies to cyclic citrullinated cyclic peptide (ACCP, or anti-CCP)
  • Rheumatoid Factor
  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR
  • C-reactive protein (CRP)

Depending on the situation, your doctor may also order a synovial fluid study, X-ray, MRI, or ultrasound.

Because rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic autoimmune disease, it can affect not only the joints but also internal organs and circulatory and nervous systems.

Future prognosis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic incurable disease, which over time inevitably leads to the impaired motor function of the joints. Nevertheless, timely treatment allows the person to achieve stable remission for a long time and live his or her usual way of life. The main consideration is not to ignore the symptoms of arthritis and start treatment while it is still at an early stage.

Medications designed to treat rheumatoid arthritis are very effective, although they have side effects. If medications do not work or the disease is diagnosed too late, surgery is recommended to repair or replace damaged joints.

Exercising helps

Arthritis is not a reason to give up exercising. On the contrary, regular physical activity strengthens the muscles around the affected joints, slows the loss of bone mass, prevents swelling and pain in the joints and, of course, helps to keep you in shape. The main consideration is to choose the right type of exercise.

For those with rheumatoid arthritis, the following are useful: pilates, aqua aerobics, swimming, aerobic and strength exercises with low impact on the joints, and walking.

The following are not recommended, as they put increased stress on the joints: soccer, hockey, basketball, volleyball, tennis, skiing and ski jumping, wrestling, weightlifting, and running.

10 October 2023

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