One of the most common diseases that affect older adults is Rheumatoid Arthritis. It is estimated that about 30% of elderly adults have Rheumatoid Arthritis to some extent. It is more prevalent among women than men, but both are still susceptible to the condition.
Cause of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Unfortunately, Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease, which means that the body’s immune system attacks health tissue in the joints. Like other autoimmune diseases, there is no known cause for the disease and it can occur at any time, although it primarily is common among elderly adults. It is believed that genes, infections, and hormonal shifts may influence the disease to be activated, but nothing has been proven.
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
For most people, Rheumatoid Arthritis slowly increases in severity and the symptoms often get worse as time passes. Here are the most common symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis:
- Morning stiffness, which lasts for over an hour.
- Tender or stiff joints, even when not mobile for long periods of time
- Severe joint pain
- Lack of motion in joints
- Deformed joints
Other non-joint related symptoms include:
- Chest pain
- Dry eyes and mouth
- Burning or itching feeling in eyes
- Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
- Severe sleep difficulties
If you experience any number of these symptoms, you should consult your doctor. While there is no direct test to determine whether you have Rheumatoid Arthritis, your doctor may schedule an Anti-CCP antibody test and a Rheumatoid Factor Test, which will give you a good idea whether or not you have Rheumatoid Arthritis.
For most people, once they develop Rheumatoid Arthritis, they will need treatment for the rest of their lives. There are numerous treatment options for Rheumatoid Arthritis, including the following:
Prescription Medications: There are numerous prescription medications available that can reduce joint pain and inflammation. However, like most drugs, there are numerous side effects in most prescription drugs, which can cause you problems in other areas of your life. Plus, medications for Rheumatoid Arthritis require frequent blood tests to ensure there are no complications.
Anti-inflammatory medications: Drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen can be used however they are not a viable long-term solution. This is because both aspirin and Ibuprofen can cause stomach ulcers and bleeding. There is also some evidence that anti-inflammatory medications may weaken the heart if used for a prolonged period of time.
Cox-2 inhibitors: Cox-2 inhibitors are anti-inflammatory drugs that block a specific the COX-2 enzyme, which causes joint inflammation and pain. By blocking this enzyme, you can significantly reduce your joint pain and inflammation. Plus, there are some natural COX-2 inhibitors that can ease your suffering without costing you thousands of dollars in the process.
Surgery: If you joints become too deformed or damaged, surgery may be required to repair the damaged cartilage. This is incredibly expensive and painful, but in the long-term will ease the severity of your Rheumatoid Arthritis. However, surgery should always be considered as a last resort given the risks and possibility of complications.