Rheumatoid Arthritis Flares Management Control

Get and Keep Control of Your Rheumatoid Arthritis

When arthritis is active and painful, you have a constant reminder and strong incentive to take your medications. But when your disease is under control, it may be easy to forget a dose or two or you may even be tempted to stop taking your medication altogether. But doing so is not a good idea. The way you are feeling – particularly when you are on medication – is not always an indication of whether there is underlying disease activity. Stopping your medication could cause your disease to flare, resulting in the irreparable joint damage your doctor was aiming to prevent when prescribing medications in the first place.
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Rheumatoid Arthritis Remission Obesity

New Research: Obesity May Reduce the Chance of RA Remission by as Much as Half

People with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who are obese are less likely to achieve disease remission than their non-obese counterparts, according to a meta-analysis published in May in Arthritis Care and Research. The review also found that obesity was associated with higher levels of disease activity and pain, suggesting excess weight may negatively affect overall outcomes in RA. This meta-analysis supports earlier research, including a study presented at the 2015 annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology.
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RA Remission Overweight

Being Overweight Can Hurt Rheumatoid Arthritis Remission

If you have a few – or a lot – of pounds to lose, you know that carrying excess weight around can stress your painful or fragile joints. But research shows that the mechanical effects of weight are just part of the problem.

Fat itself releases chemicals including tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and interleukin-1 (IL-1) that promote inflammation. These chemicals may not only increase the risk of developing some forms of arthritis, but they may also increase arthritis severity or make it harder to control.

In fact a study presented at the 2015 annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology found that for people with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA), being overweight or obese can reduce the chance of achieving sustained remission.
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Gut Bacteria Microbes Rheumatoid Arthritis

Gut Bacteria: A Potential Game Changer for Rheumatoid Arthritis

You share your body with trillions of microbes – many of them beneficial bacteria living in your intestinal tract. Collectively called the microbiome, these bugs influence health and disease through complex interactions with your immune system. Often, their role is protective, guarding against pathogens and inflammation. But increasingly strong evidence suggests that disruptions in the microbial ecosystem may cause or contribute to many chronic diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Jose Scher, MD, a rheumatologist at New York University Langone Medical Center, studies the connection between intestinal bugs and arthritis. He thinks the overgrowth of normally benign bacteria called Prevotella – which are far more abundant in people with untreated RA – may trigger an inflammatory response that targets the joints. It’s also possible Prevotella crowds out beneficial bacteria that keep inflammation in check. Either way, Scher is confident there’s a connection between the microbiome and arthritis.
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Rheumatoid Arthritis Outcomes Lifestyle

Outlook Brighter For People With Rheumatoid Arthritis

People with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are likely to have a much better quality of life today than they did two decades ago. Researchers in the Netherlands observed more than 1,100 patients diagnosed with RA between 1990 and 2011. They attribute the gains to earlier diagnosis, more aggressive medications and a greater emphasis on overall well-being. Their findings were published in Arthritis Care & Research in 2014.

Lead author Cecile Overman, a postdoctoral researcher at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, says she and her colleagues wanted to determine if improved treatments over the last 20 years led to better physical and psychological health for RA patients. Continue reading Outlook Brighter For People With Rheumatoid Arthritis

rheumatoid arthritis inflammation control

Early Control of RA Inflammation Prevents Joint Surgery

With the advent of early, aggressive treatment and more effective drugs, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients are facing joint surgery much less than they were 20 years ago.

When rheumatologist Erdal Diri started working at Trinity Health Center in Minot, N.D., more than a decade ago, he saw many RA patients referred to him by surgeons frustrated by the levels of joint inflammation they saw. Better inflammation-fighting drugs and a new approach to treating RA more aggressively have changed that, he says. From an average of 30 to 40 RA patients per year being sent for surgery at this rural hospital, Dr. Diri now sends only 4 or 5.

Research Backs a Decline in RA Joint Surgeries

A study conducted by rheumatologists at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and published in Journal of Rheumatology in March 2012, tracked surgeries among 813 RA patients from 1980 to 2007. The researchers, led by Eric L. Matteson, MD, found that the incidence of any joint surgery within 10 years of diagnosis went from 27.3% in the 1980 to 1994 period, to 19.5% in the 1995 to 2007 period.
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RA Exercise Fatigue

Can a Pedometer Help Fight Rheumatoid Arthritis-Related Fatigue?

The key to helping people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) fight fatigue may be – literally and figuratively – a walk in the park, according to research presented at the 2015 American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting. Researchers from University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) found that modest exercise decreased fatigue and that a pedometer – plus a bit of guidance – helped increase the amount people exercised.

“Fatigue is one of the top-rated concerns; it has multiple sources and causes. We know from earlier studies that physical inactivity is associated with fatigue,” says lead study author Patricia Katz, PhD, a professor of medicine and health policy at UCSF. “We wanted an intervention that is simple, exportable and has few barriers to implementation.”

Katz and her team measured the activity level of 96 people with RA for one week, and had them fill out questionnaires. Then the participants were randomly divided into three groups. One group was educated on the need to be active. The second group was given a pedometer and a diary to record their daily steps. The third group got a pedometer, a step diary plus personalized daily step targets. The step targets were based on each person’s starting activity level and increased 10%every two weeks. Groups two and three also got phone calls every two weeks to collect the information from their step diaries.
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Wounds Rheumatoid Arthritis

Slow-Healing Wounds Common in Rheumatoid Arthritis

Slow-healing wounds, including leg and foot ulcers, are a known complication of several autoimmune inflammatory diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), lupus and scleroderma. For many people, these wounds can take months or even years to heal.

“People with RA develop wounds for many reasons,” says Eric Matteson, MD, chairman of rheumatology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “One is that they may have low-grade vasculitis – inflammation affecting the small blood vessels in the skin. When the wound is related to the underlying systemic inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis, not having that inflammation under control makes it much more difficult to achieve good wound healing.”

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Biomarker Tests Rheumatoid Arthritis

Biomarker Tests for Rheumatoid Arthritis Improve Care

Early detection and aggressive treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are vital to prevent joint damage. To spot RA and measure its progression, rheumatologists test the blood for certain biomarkers that are characteristic of RA. Although several biomarker tests – the erythrocyte sedimentation (sed) rate, the C-reactive protein (CRP), and rheumatoid factor (RF) – indicate inflammation, they are fairly non-specific to RA. So, the development of more specific biomarker tests is important. These tests allow earlier detection of RA and also pave the way for more customized care.

Below are descriptions of more specific biomarker tests that are being used to diagnose and monitor RA disease activity.

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Rheumatoid Arthritis Lung Disease

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lung Problems

Have a cough that won’t quit? Been short of breath lately? It could be a nasty cold or flu virus, or the problem could be related to your rheumatoid arthritis (RA). RA attacks the joints, but it doesn’t always stop there. It can affect other organs, including the lungs. In fact, some 20 to 30 percent of RA patients will eventually develop RA-related lung disease. Doctors may classify a lung problem as restrictive lung disease (such as interstitial lung disease) or obstructive lung disease (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma). Both result in shortness of breath.

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