Saturday, January 19, 2008

Rheumatoid Arthritis - Facts You Need To Know

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an immune system disease affecting people of all ages. It is most often diagnosed in middle age but also affects children and the elderly.
Women are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than men. RA causes chronic inflammation of the joints, specifically the layers between the joints, but also may cause inflammation in other organs of the body.
The cause of rheumatoid arthritis remains unknown.
Factors considered are genetic makeup, something in the environment may trigger the disease and hormonal or bacterial factors could be involved in causing RA.
People with rheumatoid arthritis usually experience periods of flares and remissions.
The disease varies greatly in individuals with some developing symptoms quickly over a short period of time while others experience flares and remissions intermittently.
Rheumatoid arthritis is diagnosed by an examination of tender or swollen joints, a blood test called the rheumatoid factor (RF), the presence of stiffness in the early morning or after a period of inactivity, bumps or nodules under the skin near joints, and sometimes an x-ray. The RF test is only positive in 80 percent of people with RA.
Sufferers of RA may be mildly anemic and another test for inflammation called erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) may be elevated. Sometimes people with RA test positive on an antinuclear antibody (ANA) test.
Because rheumatoid arthritis is an immune system disease, anything that affects the immune system (like allergic reactions) may trigger a flare.
If you suffer from RA it's extremely important to limit exposure to contagious diseases since immune system defenses are lowered.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a life-long disease but with medication as tolerated, a balance in exercise and rest while protecting the joints people with RA can live long and productive lives.
There are many systemic manifestations of the disease and mortality is highest for patients who are affected in areas other than the joints.
Occasionally inflammation of the membranes around the heart and lungs or inflammation of the lung tissues itself can occur.
Life expectancy in sufferers is reduced by an average of seven years, although some of this is undoubtedly due to the side effects of treatment.
RA sufferers who learn to live within their limitations and 'listen' to their body's signals can halt severe flares while respectfully realizing the unpredictability of this disease.
The book "Extraordinary Healing" by Art Brownstein, M.D. discusses how our "body's secret healing system" works, on pg. 329-331 it discusses in depth how to 'activate' that healing system.
Good health to you!
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© Copyright 2010 Sandy Guerriere. All Rights Reserved.


Anonymous said...

Like rust my diabetes never sleeps. Its assault on my eyes, my nervous system and major organs is relentless.
Therefore, reading your link, your story, your resourcefulness and your courage are an inspiration...maybe a moment of epiphany, in a broad context, for me and probably all who read it.
Your triumph and ingenuity are a model and metaphor for all who battle the darker side of the human condition.
For your Mediterranean magic, I thank you.

Sandy said...

Thanks Tom!
Your comment was especially supportive and encourging.

'Good Health To You'


Oh no, I just tried posting a nice lengthy message but it deleted it instead of sending it at the last minute. So frustrrating. In short: this October it'll be officially 12 years since I was diagnosed. I was 16 when it all started and it has truly been a "long hard road out of hell." But we have to do whatever we can to stay positive and not allow RA to consume us entirely or kill out spirit. Something I remind myself of constantly ((either out loud or in my head)) is: " It doesn't matter how slowly we move forward as long as we DON'T STOP!"
Best of luck you all. No matter what disease or condition has nailed you, we are all a lot stronger than we believe ourselves to be and with blogs such as this, support groups and other ways that are available to "reach out" we can not only be there for one another but there is SO MUCH we can all learn from each other as well. Stay strong, stay positive and no matter what: DON'T EVER GIVE UP. Much love and respect from me to you.

P.S. I tried "following" your blog but it wouldn't let me. Please add me ((if you don't mind)) so that I can try adding you later. I don't update as frequently as I intended to do so when I started this blog... But it happens. Definitely expect me to check in and comment & update every now and then though.

Carol B. said...

I tried following your blog as well, but it wouldn't let
I am just starting to wonder if what I am experiencing is OA or RA...I would love to research more about RA...what you describe here sounds just like what I'm presently going through with my knees...swelling, pain, weakness, nodules, etc. Right now it's the left knee, a month ago it was my right, which is perfectly fine now.... friend Dianne B. has been so instrumental in offering information, love and support...and I see your comments as well....


John Leslie said...

Thank you for the article Sandy. I have been battling this for a long time and it is so hard to explain it to someone. I have found that a strict diet and lots of exercise work as well for me as the medications did. At least for now anyway..

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