Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) don’t stop at joint pain and swelling. Most people with RA also experience mental and physical exhaustion, a symptom known as fatigue. Studies show that up to 80% of people with RA have at least some sense of feeling run down, and more than 50% have high levels of fatigue.
Terence Starz, MD, a rheumatologist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, says the feeling can be described as overwhelming or different from just being tired because it is extreme and seems to come from nowhere. In fact, fatigue may have a greater impact on daily life than pain.
Generally, patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have higher levels of inflammation in their bodies, which can affect other organs and tissues besides the joints. In fact, people with RA have up to twice the risk of heart disease and development of heart failure (especially if they test positive for rheumatoid factor, or RF) than the general population, according to a 2013 Mayo Clinic study published in the American Heart Journal.
Continue reading Risk of Heart Attack Rises After RA Diagnosis
Early studies show an implanted device that sends electrical signals to the brain via the vagus nerve has potential as a new therapy for rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Continue reading Can Nerve Stimulation Therapy Help 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.
Continue reading Get and Keep Control of Your Rheumatoid Arthritis
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.
Continue reading New Research: Obesity May Reduce the Chance of RA Remission by as Much as Half
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
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.
A link between stress and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is commonly acknowledged. However, scientists continue to explore the connection between the nervous and immune systems and the effect on RA onset and progression. People with RA commonly report experiencing physical or emotional stress when first diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder like RA. However in a 2010 editorial in Arthritis Research & Therapy, Daniel Clauw, MD, a professor of anesthesiology at the University of Michigan (who has expertise in rheumatology and pain), commented on a review of 16 studies on the stress-arthritis link. In his editorial, Dr. Clauw highlighted the verified link in animal models and the difficulty in proving a similar linear relationship in humans.
As you know, rheumatoid arthritis is a disease of the joints, but a subset of people with RA say
that it can also take a toll on a very important organ: the brain. They describe feeling forgetful, unable to concentrate and gripped by the “blahs.” In other words, they say that rheumatoid arthritis gives them an unshakable case of brain fog.
Brain fog isn’t a medical term, but doctors have long recognized that patients with certain physical conditions (such as lupus and multiple sclerosis) can experience cognitive dysfunction, or the diminished ability to think, learn, remember and perform other mental tasks. Not all doctors who treat rheumatoid arthritis are convinced that brain fog represents an important concern for their patients. Yet recent research offers clues that diseases featuring chronically elevated inflammation, such as RA, may hinder healthy brain performance.
“I see it all the time,” says Marian Rissenberg, PhD, a neuropsychologist who works with patients coping with cognitive problems at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, New York. “These people are not malingerers.”