When diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, many patients instinctively prepare for a life filled with pain. Yes, this may be true in some severe cases. But a growing number of rheumatologists now believe that with early treatment, Rheumatoid Arthritis can be stopped in its tracks. According to the popular Arthritis Today magazine, this is a growing theory. So, what does it mean for you?
Early Diagnosis & Treatment
If you suspect you are suffering from any form of arthritis, it is important to seek immediate medical confirmation. Common symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis include joint pain, swelling, stiffness, sleep troubles, and decreased mobility. Treatment options do vary, but a proper diagnosis is essential: there are over one hundred different types of arthritis! Start with your primary healthcare physician. They may later suggest you visit an arthritis specialist, also commonly known as a rheumatologist.
Treatment options for Rheumatoid Arthritis often include over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications. This is simply to lessen the severity of the pain and does nothing to treat the actual cause of the pain. As you can imagine, this relief is short-lived, and there is a real risk of becoming dependent on these OTC pain relievers. More important, over the longer-term, are medications that address the root cause of the pain: inflammation. When taken over time, these medications work to combat arthritis symptoms at their source.
Juveniles are the only individuals likely to outgrow Rheumatoid Arthritis. For adults, the disease will only progress and get worse, especially without treatment. The health complications are far too great to not give treatments a chance. Health complications may include disability, severe limitations in mobility, and deformities.
As for the importance of early treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis, Arthritis Today magazine highlighted a study performed on the drug HUMIRA® where it showed that those diagnosed early were more likely to enter into remission in as little as two years! Bear in mind, however, the costs of these pharmaceutical medications: a monthly course of HUMIRA® (80mg) can run over $5,500 if you are a cash-paying patient!
Diet & Exercise
Another important aspect of treatment is exercise. Excessive use of troublesome joints can trigger pain. For this reason, patients need to start slow. For example, a patient suffering from arthritis of the fingers should move and stretch their fingers daily. Pain is likely at first, but the more a joint is safely and slowly worked, the more improvements patients are likely to see. Low impact exercises relieve joint stiffness and lessen the likelihood of deformities.
In addition to exercise, healthy eating is important. Combined, the two could also result in weight loss. This is not to say that all arthritis sufferers are overweight, but some are, and being overweight compounds arthritis pain and lessens the impact of treatments. With some patients, the pain is triggered by certain foods. Most see success by eliminating or reducing red meat and dairy intake. In terms of natural remedies, nothing is scientifically proven, but many patients report relief after consuming pineapples, cayenne pepper, raw cabbage, and cold-water fish. An anti-inflammatory diet will go a long way to help reduce overall inflammation throughout your body, and your joints will love you for it.
What Does This Mean For You?
Although a growing number of arthritis experts do agree that early treatment can stop or slow the progression of Rheumatoid Arthritis, many are not convinced. They consider the average window of opportunity for effective treatments to be two years between onset and diagnosis. Many believe that once those two years have passed patients are then past the point of no return and that treatment is useless. This is most definitely not the case. Treatment always has the possibility to reduce or temporarily eliminate many of the symptoms of arthritis. So, be sure to push for treatment regardless of the fabled “two-year window”.
While there is little scientific proof that early treatment can stop Rheumatoid Arthritis in its tracks, it is worth the chance. As previously stated, all patients should undergo treatment. Whether that treatment comprises of OTC medications, prescribed medications, diet and exercise changes, or herbal supplements, treatment can reduce the symptoms of arthritis. If you can stop the disease in its tracks, just consider that the icing on the cake.
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