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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a form of arthritis that causes pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of function in your joints. It can affect any joint but is common in the wrist and fingers.
More women than men get rheumatoid arthritis. It often starts in middle age and is most common in older people. But children and young adults can also get it. You might have the disease for only a short time, or symptoms might come and go. The severe form can last a lifetime.
Rheumatoid arthritis is different from osteoarthritis, the common arthritis that often comes with older age. RA can affect body parts besides joints, such as your eyes, mouth and lungs. RA is an autoimmune disease, which means the arthritis results from your immune system attacking your body's own tissues.
No one knows what causes rheumatoid arthritis. Genes, environment and hormones might contribute. Treatments include medicine, lifestyle changes and surgery. These can slow or stop joint damage and reduce pain and swelling.
NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculature and Skin Diseases
The severity of the disease can vary from person to person. Symptoms can change from day to day. Sudden increases in symptoms and illness are called flares. A flare can last for days or months. Key rheumatoid arthritis symptoms are pain, fatigue and warm, swollen, reddish joints. Long periods of joint stiffness in the morning are common. Inflammation in the small joints of the wrist and hand is typical. If a joint on one side of the body is affected, the same one on the other side is usually affected, too.
Although rheumatoid arthritis is primarily a disease of the joints, its effects are not just physical. Many people with rheumatoid arthritis also experience issues related to:
feelings of helplessness
Rheumatoid arthritis can affect virtually every area of a person's life from work life to family life. It can also interfere with the joys and responsibilities of family life and may affect the decision to have children.
Rheumatoid arthritis increases your risk of developing:
Osteoporosis. Rheumatoid arthritis itself, along with some medications used for treating rheumatoid arthritis, can increase your risk of osteoporosis- a condition that weakens your bones and makes them more prone to fracture.
Carpal tunnel syndrome. If rheumatoid arthritis affects your wrists, the inflammation can compress the nerve that serves most of your hand and fingers.
Heart problems. Rheumatoid arthritis can increase your risk of hardened and blocked arteries, as well as inflammation of the sac that encloses your heart.
Lung disease. People with rheumatoid arthritis have an increased risk of inflammation and scarring of the lung tissues, which can lead to progressive shortness of breath.
A rheumatoid arthritis exercise regimen may be the last thing on your mind when you are tired and your joints ache, but it may be just what you need to ease pain and improve your energy level.
Studies show that regular rheumatoid arthritis exercise may help reduce joint pain and stiffness, increase joint mobility and muscle strength and improve psychological well-being. Regular exercise can also help reduce your risk of other health problems, such as heart disease or diabetes, which can accompany rheumatoid arthritis.
Ideally, your rheumatoid arthritis diet exercise program would include aerobic exercise to strengthen your heart and lungs, strengthening exercises to make your muscles stronger so they can better support your joints, and stretching exercises to keep your muscles flexible and joints moving freely.
One form of exercise almost anyone with arthritis can do is water exercise. If you haven't been active for a while, start slowly and do whatever you can at first. As you become stronger and your endurance increases, you will be able to exercise longer and more strenuously.It's also important to pay attention to your body. If a particular joint is actively inflamed, give that joint a rest, but continue to exercise. And while it's natural to experience some muscle soreness following a workout, increased joint pain may mean you're working too hard and need to scale back your exercise routine.
Rest and exercise: People with rheumatoid arthritis need a good balance between rest and exercise, with more rest when the disease is active and more exercise when it is not. Rest helps to reduce active joint inflammation and pain and to fight fatigue. Exercise is important for maintaining healthy and strong muscles, preserving joint mobility, and maintaining flexibility. Exercise can also help people sleep well, reduce pain, maintain a positive attitude, and manage weight. Exercise programs should take into account the person's physical abilities, limitations, and changing needs.
Joint care: Some people find using a splint for a short time around a painful joint reduces pain and swelling by supporting the joint and letting it rest. Splints are used mostly on wrists and hands, but also on ankles and feet. Other ways to reduce stress on joints include self-help devices (for example, zipper pullers, long-handled shoe horns); devices to help with getting on and off chairs, toilet seats, and beds; and changes in the ways that a person carries out daily activities.
Stress reduction: People with rheumatoid arthritis face emotional challenges as well as physical ones. The emotions they feel because of the disease fear, anger, and frustration combined with any pain and physical limitations can increase their stress level. Stress also may affect the amount of pain a person feels. There are a number of successful techniques for coping with stress. Exercise programs, participation in support groups, and good communication with the health care team are other ways to reduce stress.
Healthful diet: With the exception of several specific types of oils, there is no scientific evidence that any specific food or nutrient helps or harms people with rheumatoid arthritis. However, an overall nutritious diet with enough,but not an excess of calories, protein, and calcium is important.
Climate: Some people notice that their arthritis gets worse when there is a sudden change in the weather. However, there is no evidence that a specific climate can prevent or reduce the effects of rheumatoid arthritis.
Range-of-motion exercises and exercise programs prescribed by a physical therapist can delay the loss of joint function and help keep muscles strong.
Sometimes, therapists will use special machines to apply deep heat or electrical stimulation to reduce pain and improve joint movement.
Other therapies that may help ease joint pain include:
Joint protection techniques
Heat and cold treatments
Splints or orthotic devices to support and align joints
Frequent rest periods between activities, as well as 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night
Some people with RA may have intolerance or allergies to certain foods. A balanced nutritious diet is recommended. It may be helpful to eat foods rich in fish oils (omega-3 fatty acids).
Studies have shown that fish oil can relieve tender joints and ease morning stiffness. It has also allowed some people to reduce the amount of conventional medication they take for RA. Servings of fish provide about one gram of omega-3 fatty acids per 31/2 ounces of fish. If you choose to try fish oil supplements, talk to your doctor about a dosage. People with RA can often take a higher level of fish oil than is recommended for the general public, but there can be side effects. Higher doses of fish oil may interact with certain drugs, including those for high blood pressure.
Increasing your intake of fiber from fruits, vegetables and whole grains may also help reduce inflammation. Studies show that adding fiber to the diet results in lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in the blood; CRP is an indicator of inflammation. Strawberries, either fresh or frozen, seem to have an especially beneficial effect on CRP levels.
Extra-virgin olive oil may also help reduce inflammation, in the same way that a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as ibuprofen or aspirin can , it contains a compound called oleocanthal that blocks the enzymes that cause inflammation.
However, you might not want to empty your medicine cabinet just yet. It would take 31/2tablespoons of olive oil ,400 calories worth to equal the anti-inflammatory properties of one 200-mg ibuprofen tablet. Instead, use the oil as a low-fat alternative to other cooking oils and butter.
It is important to eat the right kind of food for a healthy mind and body. Try to incorporate 6-7 small meals/snacks during the day.
Generally, all food items can be classified into six major groups as shown in the Healthy Food Pyramid.
Immediate Diet Plan
1. Include omega 3 fatty acids in your diet. They are present in fish.
2. Include lots of fresh, seasonal, local and if possible organic Fruits and Vegetables to get fiber intake.
3.Add plenty of Whole Grains (whole wheat flour, brown rice, whole beans).
4.Choose foods high in Good Fat such as olive oil, peanut oil, fatty fish, walnuts, flaxseeds. If you do not eat fish, talk to your doctor about taking fish supplements.
1.Say NO to all Sugary beverages and foods. Do not add any extra sugar to beverages like tea coffee etc.
2.Refined ingredients like white rice, white flour, maida should be completely omitted from diets.
3.Avoid combination of sugary and refined foods like cakes, pies, ice creams as they do the most harm.
4.Slash down any intake of carbonated, caffeinated or alcoholic beverages.
5.Curb your Salt intake, as sodium in the salt has to tendency to retain water in the body which can increase blood pressure and add other complications. Do not add salt while cooking and restrict consumption of packaged food.
Sample Diet Plan
1 Cup (250ml) lukewarm water with 1 Tbsp. lemon juice and 1/2 tsp. honey
5 soaked raisins
1 Rava Dal Dosa OR Oats
forteified low fat Milk (1 cup) or Soy milk
1 medium Apple OR 1 medium orange
Mid Morning Snack
1/2 Cup boiled vegetable bhel, sprinkled with lemon juice OR Semiyan Upama OR Khakra with low fat butter
1 Cup Coconut water
1 large bowl of Salad (carrots, cucumbers, beets, tomatoes and onions)
(Dressing - mix Olive oil or cream, lemon juice and pepper)
2 Multigrain phulka OR Jowari Roti
1 Cup Palak/Plain Dal OR 1 Cup Rajma
1 Cup yogurt
Mid Afternoon Snack
Toast/ Digestive biscuit
1 glass of Fruit/Vegetalbe juice
Early Dinner Snack
1/2 Cup Mixed sprouts OR Chole salad (Recipe)
1 Cup Soup, cream or clear any is ok
- 1/2 Cup Veg Pulav OR 1 Cup Brown rice Khichadi with 1 small bowl of Raita made with full fat
1 Cup Cauliflower curry OR Bottle gourd (Lauki) curry
1 Whole grain bread like bhakri
1 Portion of Sweet ocasionally
Late Night Snack
1/2Cup milk infused with Turmeric if Diary suits OR 1 Green Tea OR Ginger Cardomum Concoction