Dangers of Untreated Rheumatoid Arthritis and What You Can do to Fight It
Rheumatoid Arthritis: An Overview
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is one of the most common types of autoimmune disorders. In people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), their immune system ends up attacking and destroying their own joint tissue. This is due to the fact that for reasons that are still unknown, the body’s defense system mistakes the body’s own cells for invaders like viruses and bacteria. Untreated rheumatoid arthritis is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Many patients with RA are not getting treatment either because they do not realize they have it, they do not realize how severe their condition is, or they do not know the dangers of leaving RA untreated over the long term. Untreated rheumatoid arthritis can have serious consequences.
Potential Consequences of Untreated Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Joint destruction and deformity: the destruction of the joint leads to damage to the bones and ligaments and can lead to deformity and an increased chance of suffering dislocations and broken bones.
- Loss of function and disability: Rheumatoid joints tend to get swollen and painful which in turn limits mobility and the use of the affected joints; over the long-term this can result in eventual disability and immobility.
- Osteoporosis: Individuals with rheumatoid arthritis are at a much higher risk for developing osteoporosis and suffering from bone loss as a result of the deterioration and side effects of common RA medications.
- Coronary artery disease: Heart disease and other conditions are more common in individuals with RA. This is believed to be caused by the inflammation that can become widespread when the arthritis is left untreated.
- Anemia: Those with rheumatoid arthritis are also prone to suffering from anemia, a condition where the blood does not have enough red blood cells and thus not enough oxygen to keep the body healthy and functional.
- Early death: Untreated rheumatoid arthritis has been shown in several studies to increase the risk of mortality. Usually the causes are heart related or due to falls and broken bones or inflammation.
- Depression and nervous system disorders: People with RA are known to be more susceptible to depression and anxiety because the inflammation of RA affects the brain and nerves, thus leading to neuropsychiatric indicators.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a serious condition, but it is manageable! Seek treatment early to give yourself the best chance at a successful outcome.
Things You Can do to Fight RA
The American College of Rheumatology recommends a balanced exercise routine for those individuals who are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis:
- Low-impact, slow and easy, aerobic exercises like walking and biking
- Flexibility workouts like stretching and Pilates on a daily basis
- Strengthening with weights and resistance workouts several times a week
- Body awareness, and posture control with Tai Chi, meditation, and yoga
While exercise can help with overall strength and energy levels, it is important to make sure you are not damaging your joints and causing too much stress in your workouts. If your rheumatoid arthritis is bad or you are having a flare up, make sure you consider these adjustments that can be made to your workout routine:
- Make sure you are doing low impact workouts like walking rather than jogging.
- Properly warm up before your workout to get your joints and muscles ready.
- Workout for smaller periods of time more often throughout the day.
- Do aerobic and strength training and stretching workouts each day.
- Always warm up properly before you exercise and wear the proper clothes.
- Always cool down and rehydrate yourself after your workout.
- Wear good athletic shoes that offer shock absorption and support for your feet.
- Keep the workouts varied to avoid accidental repetition injuries to your joints.
Foods That Are Good For Rheumatoid Arthritis Sufferers
While there is no magical cure for RA and no food that can reverse the damage and remove rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, there are many delicious and healthy foods that can help strengthen the body, reduce the severity of symptoms, and help you feel better. Here are just a few:
Fish are high in omega-3 oils and fatty acids which are shown to help reduce inflammation and swelling. The best fish include salmon, herring, tuna, and mackerel.
Soybeans are high in omega-3s and are a great option for those who don’t like fish. They are also low in fat, high in protein, have a lot of fiber, and are a great food choice for RA.
Healthy oils like olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, and sunflower oil have been shown to help keep joints lubricated and to protect against joint deterioration and damage.
Berries of all kinds are packed with healthy antioxidants that help flush toxins from the body. Delicious cherries, blueberries, raspberries, and the like are some of the best.
Low-fat dairy products are great for your overall health, and choices like yogurt, milk, and cheeses are easy to add into your diet for a healthy boost against rheumatoid arthritis.
Packed full of vitamins K and C, broccoli also is high in sulforaphane, which is believed to help prevent or slow the progression of arthritis and reduced inflammation symptoms.
Long used for health and medicinal applications, green tea is high in polyphenols, antioxidants that are believed to reduce inflammation slow tissue deterioration with RA.
Delicious and tangy, citrus has been shown to help boost cellular health at optimum levels and is abundant in oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits.
One food many don’t think about when it comes to fighting RA is whole grains like oats, barley, millet, wheat, and whole seeds that have not been processed or altered.
The final food that helps reduce the effects of RA and RA symptoms is one you may already be using in your cooking. Garlic has long been valued for its many medicinal uses and applications.
Contact Us Today to Learn More
To learn more about how you can manage your rheumatoid arthritis and the steps you need to take to protect yourself from the effects of untreated RA, contact our pain management clinic today at the Pain Relief Institute. Our pain center is here for you to help you live your life pain free. Call for your consultation appointment today!