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By Renee Cook

The Painful Truth of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that usually starts affecting people between the ages of 30 and 60 years. RA attacks the joints and other body parts. This disease is very hard to diagnose because its symptoms mimic other illnesses, and they may flare, fade and flare again. The body's immune system is there to protect our health and attack foreign substances like bacteria and viruses, yet with RA it mistakenly attacks joints. Over time, joints can become loose, unstable and painful, and may ultimately lose their mobility. Joint deformity can also occur.

In early RA, the most common areas of pain are the knees, feet, ankles and shoulders. Children can also develop RA though usually not before the age of 16. Complications in the body that can stem from this autoimmune disease include problems with your eyes, lungs, heart, bones, nerves and blood vessels. It has been shown that women are more likely than men to develop RA, and factors such as family history, smoking, obesity, and/or environmental factors have been linked to RA.

RA can be a tricky disease. It does not always cause you pain. Some days you may wake up with no pain or stiffness. This reprieve could last for weeks, months, or even years; then out of nowhere comes a flare-up.

Such flare-ups may be triggered by fatigue or overexertion. Rheumatoid fatigue can be triggered by physical and/or psychological factors. Some compare rheumatoid fatigue to recovering from the flu and feeling that something inside is slowing you, your initiative, and thinking down. Chemicals in the brain called cytokines have been shown to promote inflammation and cause fatigue. Don't get discouraged, though. There are medications you can take and things you can do to help with these flare-ups.

Medications and Supplements
• Ibuprofen
• Ketoprofen
• Naproxen Sodium

Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (may possibly prevent further damage to joints and bones)
• Orencia
• Methotrexate (a cancer drug; one of the most popular and effective drugs in this class)
• Azathioprine
• Chloroquine
• Cyclophosphamide
• Cyclosporine

• Glucosamine
• Avocado Soybean
• Ginger
• Chondroitin

Foods good for cartilage
• Garlic
• Onions
• Apples
• Almond
• Chia
• Pineapple

There are also foods you may want to avoid when you have RA. These foods can trigger flare-ups or cause more pain because of effects they may have on your body. These include: fried foods, gluten, alcohol, processed foods, canned fruits and vegetables and salt. With RA, you should eat fresh vegetables, blueberries, blackberries, fish, almonds, green tea, olive oil, broccoli, oranges, and whole grains. All of these help with inflammatory problems, and most are loaded with fiber.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is a serious auto-immune disease, but it does not have to be debilitating. You can still go through your daily life. Yes, there will be painful days, but don't let them stop you. The things listed above will help mitigate the affects of RA and help you go on with your normal daily life. If you want to learn more about Rheumatoid Arthritis or believe you have it, please make an appointment and visit your doctor today. Do not wait for it to get worse.

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