The disease occurs when the immune system attacks healthy cells in the body (notoriously the joints), leading to painful swelling. Aside from tenderness, there’s a surprising symptom you need to know about.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), weight loss can be a symptom of rheumatoid arthritis.
The culprit behind the disease is yet to be discovered, but researchers have identified numerous genetic and environmental factors that increase a person’s risk of developing the condition.
The CDC attested that the onset of rheumatoid arthritis is “highest among adults in their 60s”.
Interestingly, the autoimmune condition tends to affect more women than men, especially those who have never had children.
Lifestyle factors that increase a person’s risk of the disease are smoking and obesity.
The CDC said that studies examining the role of obesity found that the more overweight a person was, the higher his or her risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis was.
Aside from weight loss, other signs of the condition include fatigue, tiredness or weakness.
The more obvious signs of rheumatoid arthritis include pain or aching in more than one joint.
This can be accompanied with joint stiffness, tenderness and swelling, which can affect both sides of the body.
Over time, rheumatoid arthritis can lead to unsteadiness and deformity of the joints.
The CDC added: “It’s best to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis early – within six months of the onset of symptoms.”
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The reason for this is so that early treatment can slow down or stop the disease from progressing.
Usual treatment methods include medication, such as disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), and self-management strategies.
Such strategies endorsed by the CDC include physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight and to stop smoking.
There’s an acronym to help arthritis sufferers remember how to exercise safely: SMART.
S stands for “start low, go slow”, meaning you need to recognise how well your body tolerates new physical activity.
It’s vital to take your time adjusting to a new level of activity, before increasing the duration or adding more movements.
M stands for “modify activities when arthritis symptoms increase, try to stay active”.
Pain, stiffness and fatigue may come and go with arthritis, so manage activity levels according to your good or bad days, but do keep on moving.
A stands for “activities should be joint friendly”, such as walking, bicycling, water aerobics, or dancing.
These activities have a low risk of injury, and put less pressure on the joints.
R stands for “recognise safe places and ways to be active”, meaning exercise classes with an instructor may be a safe bet.
T stands for “talk to a health specialist or certified exercise specialist” to ensure you’re doing activities that match your ability and health goals.
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