12 Jan Life Before, During and After Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosis
When your body is wracked with pain and movement becomes difficult and more painful, it is easy to comprehend the fear that occurs. Arthritis of any sort is a concern and affects health in many ways, but, with rheumatoid arthritis, the symptoms and effects can be far more severe. Although seeking medical assistance may be worrying, realistically, it’s far better to comprehend what is causing joint pain because there are treatments that can help to reduce the inflammation and assist mobility.
Any joint pain must be taken seriously. For some people, it will be nothing more than a strain impacting movement and causing considerable pain. For others, it could be wear and tear of the joint and osteoarthritis or, even gout. The prospect of it being rheumatoid arthritis is enough to send shivers down the spine with fear of ongoing pain or the prospect of disability topping the list. The extent of this disease will affect people very differently and some may have milder symptoms than others.
When medical help is sought, diagnosis occurs through the examination of those joints affected. Osteoarthritis or degenerative arthritis will not have the same joint inflammation. If the small joints of the hands, which include the wrists and fingers along with the joints of the knees and feet are affected, it may well be rheumatoid arthritis. Usually, joints affected are inflamed on both sides of the body.
Where fewer joints are affected, it makes the diagnosis harder.
It is the not knowing or the surmising that makes the situation more fearful, even so, it’s important to keep stress to a minimum. There are other diseases of the joints that may mirror rheumatoid arthritis, but a blood test will determine any abnormal antibodies. X-rays can be useful in revealing any degradation of the joint but, will also be able to monitor any changes going forward.
People often don’t like to talk about the fear factor. They try to hide it because no-one really knows how this disease will affect them. There is no actual cure for rheumatoid arthritis and this will, of course, increase the fear of the unknown.
The goal is simple.
- Deal with the inflammation
- Manage pain
- Increase the function of any affected joints
- Prevent degeneration or deformity
On a personal level, taking an intuitive approach to health will enable life to commence almost as usual. Losing weight, and improving health and fitness generally can help. If there is fatigue or pain, rest, when this starts to ease, life carries on. It’s important to work with the body and not against it. But there is the need for medication too. First line drugs include medicine such as corticosteroids and aspirin to deal with the pain and to reduce inflammation. Then, slow-acting medication which works to delay or prevent the destruction of the joint. For some people, the disease burns out and can be managed with medication and rest. Keeping the joints as supple as possible without overloading them may be difficult but exercise such as swimming or yoga can really help if done carefully.
Research is ongoing and new treatment methods offer much hope. Treatments such as stem cells can actively help to regenerate any damage to the joint and will lead to the restoration of the body’s function in specific areas. In the first instance, seek medical assistance and advice. Find out whether rheumatoid arthritis is present and if so, what treatment is available. It may be that stem cell treatment will help to restore joint health but, it’s important to face the biggest obstacle of all, and that’s fear of the disease itself.