Have you ever woken up in the morning and felt pain just getting out of bed? Do you notice your joints and all your reflexes are constricted with sharp pains along with every movement? If so, you may be living with rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system will attack the body’s joints.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a common bone disease in adults and mainly the elderly. With 20% of adults in the UAE suffering from arthritis, it is believed that 1% of the UAE’s population suffers from rheumatoid arthritis. With that being said, it’s important to develop a clear understanding of what it is, causes and treatments. 

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Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system will attack joint tissues and destroy them in the process. This happens because the immune system mistakenly attacks it instead of foreign viruses or bacterias. As a result, this will create inflammation that causes the tissue that lines the inside of joints to thicken.

This causes the joints to swell and become very painful. When the synovial fluid that is responsible for keeping joints lubricated runs dry, bones will begin to rub against each other, causing pain, swelling, constricted motor ability, and ultimately deformity and disability.

Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis will most likely affect smaller joints first, which means you’ll notice the discomfort in your fingers, toes, and feet. The disease till then progresses into bigger and more prominent joints, and you’ll start to notice the pain and swelling in the wrists, elbows, shoulders, hips, waist, knees and ankles.

Symptoms will include Tender, hot to touch and swollen joints. You will also experience stiffness when upon waking up in the morning and performing basic physical movements. Fatigue, fever, and loss of appetite are also common. Apart from joints and bones being affected, rheumatoid arthritis also affects non-joint structures in the body, including skin eyes, lungs, heart, nerve tissue, kidneys and among others. 

Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Certain risk factors can increase the likeliness of the disease to occur in your health. This includes the below:

  • Gender – Women are more highly likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis as opposed to men.
  • Age – Although rheumatoid arthritis can occur at any stage of your life, it is most common to occur once people have reached their middle ages. 
  • Smoking – Smokers are at a higher risk of rheumatoid arthritis as smoking, in general, appears to be associated with greater disease severity. Smoking also higher the risk of the disease, especially if you have a genetic predisposition. 
  • Family Genetics – If you have a long family history with the disease or have family members suffering from the disease, the risk factor of having the disease yourself is more likely. 
  • Being overweight or obese – People who carry excess weight are more likely to be at risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, especially for women aged 50 or younger.
  • Physical environment – Although more research needs to be made on this point, exposure to asbestos or silica may increase the risk and likelihood of rheumatoid arthritis from developing if these elements are to be inhaled. 

Preventing Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Get regular physical activity. Simply walking, stretching or doing yoga is a light and easy form of exercise most people can do. 
  • Eat nutritious foods and a balanced diet. Foods that are natural in probiotics and calcium are good for bone and joint strength.
  • Cut back on processed and refined foods. Foods that are heavy on additives and artificial flavours should be avoided. This will also help you maintain a healthy body weight that will be less demanding on the bones and joints when you move.
  • Eliminate smoking. Find a helpline or support network that can help you to decrease or completely stop. 
  • Get regular check-ups with your doctor. If you are at high risk of rheumatoid arthritis, have a health condition or a possible nutrition deficiency, its important to always get regular check-ups with the doctor, particularly for older age people or anyone who is recovering from a recent injury. 
  • Do not ignore the signs or symptoms. If you feel severe pain, swelling or stiffness in your joints or whenever you’re moving about, speak with your doctor immediately to have the problem diagnosed. 

When to See a Doctor?

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Preventing rheumatoid arthritis from developing in the first place is the best thing to do like a lot of the lifestyle changes required to avoid it are good for your general health. But when you notice any of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, speak with your doctor immediately.

Although the disease is incurable, you can slow it down and have a better quality of life by managing it properly. By speaking with your doctor, they can diagnose where the problem lies and give you advice on how to manage it. They will also provide you with medicine that is extremely necessary from keeping the disease from developing into worse conditions. 

Head over to the Okadoc app to immediately book an appointment with your health practitioner.