Signs and symptoms of autoimmune arthritis
The symptoms can be temporary and start slowly. These signs and symptoms can indicate joint pain or inflammation on both sides of your body.
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- Deformed joints
- Hard bumps of tissue (nodules), under your arms
- Reduced range of motion
- Dry mouth
- Sleeping problems
- weight loss
eye inflammation, dry eyes, itchy eyes, eye discharge
- Pleurisy is chest pain that occurs when you breathe (pleurisy).
Prevalence of autoimmune disease and arthritis
An autoimmune disease affects more than 23.5 million Americans. It is a leading cause of death and disability.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately 1.5 million Americans have RA. Nearly 300,000. Americans have some form of arthritis.
Certain risk factors can affect your chances of developing autoimmune arthritis. For instance, risk factors for RA include:
Your gender: RA is more common in women than it is in men.
- Your age: Although RA can occur at any age (most people notice symptoms between the ages 49-60), it is most common in those over 60.
- Your family history: If other relatives have it, you are at higher risk for developing RA.
- Smoking: Smoking can increase your risk of developing RA. Quitting can lower your risk.
Because autoimmune diseases often share symptoms with other conditions it can be difficult to diagnose, especially in the early stages.
There is no single test that can diagnose RA. Diagnostics are based on patient-reported symptoms and clinical examination. Medical tests include:
- Rheumatoid factor (RF), test
- Anti-cyclic citrullinated Peptide antibody Test
- Blood count
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Erythrocyte sedimentation rate, c-reactive proteins
- MRI scan
Your doctor can help you diagnose by reviewing your entire medical history and keeping a log of your symptoms. Do not hesitate to get a second opinion from a specialist such as a rheumatologist.
The severity of the disease and symptoms will determine which treatment is best.
Depending on how severe your RA is, you may need ongoing care from a rheumatologist. You may also be prescribed medications such as:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs),
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, (DMARDs),
- Biologic agents
- immunosuppressant drugs
Other biologics, such as TNF-alpha inhibitors
Another option is physical therapy, which can reduce pain and increase flexibility. An occupational therapist can help you learn how to exercise properly. An occupational therapist will recommend assistive devices like grab bars, crutches, canes and cans to aid you in daily activities.
There are many complications of autoimmune arthritis. RA complications can include osteoporosis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and deformity in the joints. Lung complications can also be caused by RA, such as:
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- Blockage of small airways (bronchiolitis abliterans)
- High blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension).
- Fluid in the chest (pleural effusions).
- Scarring (pulmonary Fibrosis)
- Heart complications from RA include:
- Hardening your arteries
- Pericarditis is inflammation of the heart’s outer lining (pericarditis).
- Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle.
- Inflammation of blood vessels (rheumatoid vaselitis)
- congestive heart failure
An excess weight can cause joint pain. Keep your body in good shape and do gentle exercises to increase your range of motion. The application of cold to the joints can reduce swelling and numb pain, while heat can soothe sore muscles.
Stress can also increase symptoms. Meditation, deep breathing exercises, and tai-chi are all good options for stress reduction.
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You need to get 8-10 hours sleep a night if you have RA. You can also take a nap throughout the day if that is not enough. Smoking increases your risk of developing heart disease and lung diseases. You should quit smoking.