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Rheumatoid Arthritis Myths


Due to an abundance of easy-to-find (however not at all times correct) data, many individuals have misconceptions about rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Perhaps you’ve heard that RA is only a regular signal of getting old or that it occurs due to put on in your joints. (Each are unfaithful.) Right here, two rheumatologists clarify the reality behind among the most typical myths about RA.

Fable 1: Solely older adults can get RA.

Adults and kids alike can develop RA, says Max Konig, MD, a rheumatologist at Johns Hopkins College Faculty of Drugs in Baltimore. He says this false impression could be floating round as a result of children are sometimes recognized with a subtype of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) fairly than RA. Children with this sort of JIA — often called polyarticular arthritis, rheumatoid issue optimistic — have a protein referred to as rheumatoid factor (RF) or anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP antibodies) that reveals up of their blood, as do most individuals with RA.

RA truly turns into rarer as you become old, notes Nilanjana Bose, MD, a rheumatologist at Rheumatology Heart of Houston. You’re extra prone to have osteoarthritis than RA as you age, she says.

The vast majority of persons are recognized with RA between their 30s and 50s, based on Konig. He says that issues in your immune system — like RF and anti-CCP antibodies — may very well present up over a decade earlier than your signs begin, indicating that RA can begin a lot sooner than it’s recognized.

Fable 2: RA is identical as osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis and RA each have an effect on your joints, however Konig says they’re totally different illnesses with totally different therapy approaches.

RA is an autoimmune disease, which means your immune system sees regular proteins in your joints and different tissues as a menace and tries to destroy them, he explains.

“It’s form of like your immune system is popping by yourself physique and inflicting a number of inflammation,” Bose says. “Because of this, you get joint pain and swelling, and you may as well get different signs like weight reduction, fever, and fatigue.”

As a result of it’s a systemic illness — which means it impacts your complete physique — RA may contain issues like your lungs and heart, says Bose. Lung disease is very frequent in individuals who have RF or anti-CCP antibodies of their blood, often called seropositive rheumatoid arthritis, Konig says.


He notes that RA may have an effect on your skin, eyes, and, in uncommon circumstances, blood vessels. “You actually need to deal with RA extra aggressively as a result of we’re not simply speaking about joints, we’re speaking about your entire physique,” Bose says.

Compared, osteoarthritis is proscribed to your joints. It’s the wear-and-tear kind of arthritis fairly than an autoimmune illness as a result of it doesn’t contain the immune system, Konig says. Bose explains that not like RA, osteoarthritis has no different signs past ache, swelling, stiffness, and tenderness.

Fable 3: There isn’t any therapy for RA, so that you simply need to reside with it.

Previously, Konig says, individuals who ended up within the hospital with RA have been handled with mattress relaxation, chilly compresses, massage, and leg elevation. This will likely have eased a few of their signs, nevertheless it didn’t cease the illness from getting worse. Over time, this led to deformed joints and exhausting pain.

Fortunately, that is now not true. “Over the previous 40 years, the therapy of rheumatoid arthritis has modified dramatically,” Konig says. “We now have a plethora of extremely efficient therapies that may not solely cut back or eradicate ache, but additionally quench joint inflammation and stop the event of structural bone harm, joint deformity, and incapacity.”

Not solely are there many therapy choices for RA flares, however there are lots to assist handle the illness, explains Bose. Your rheumatologist will assist you to discover the most effective therapy on your wants.

Fable 4: You shouldn’t train when you’ve RA.

This one could appear plausible since you don’t need to put extra put on in your joints. However the one time it might be true is in the event you’re having a flare-up, when it is best to reduce your exercise. “We don’t need to stress out the joints, so we don’t advocate vigorous exercise at the moment,” Bose says. In any other case, train is a vital a part of managing RA. It may possibly reduce fatigue and depression, make you stronger and extra versatile, and even assist stop incapacity.

One huge motive exercise is essential is that when you’ve RA, you’ve the next danger of heart disease, notes Konig. Getting common train can decrease your danger. The American Coronary heart Affiliation recommends a minimal of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of high-intensity cardio exercise each week.

Be sure to’re doing the proper of train so that you’re not too exhausting in your joints, Bose says, particularly in case your hips or knees are affected. She recommends low-impact cardio workouts like swimming, mild strolling, or utilizing an elliptical machine or stationary bike. Your rheumatologist or bodily therapist might help you design an train plan that works for you.


Fable 5: You’re positively going to have joint harm when you’ve got RA.

There are such a lot of efficient remedies, particularly when RA is recognized and handled early, that joint damage can typically be prevented, Bose says. That’s why it’s so essential to take motion as early as attainable. “The purpose is to get the illness into remission shortly, since vital harm can happen early within the illness course,” says Konig.

Everybody’s RA works in another way, says Konig, in all probability resulting from issues like their setting, their genes, and the way the illness reveals up. Some individuals have aggressive RA, and even with therapy, they’ll have joint harm and deformity. However this can be a minority of sufferers, Bose says.

Fable 6: It doesn’t assist RA to make life-style adjustments.

Past train, different life-style adjustments could make a big effect, reminiscent of ditching cigarettes. “We all know that cigarette smoking is a major danger issue for the event of RA, and people who smoke are likely to have extra extreme illness,” Konig says. Quitting can enhance RA in addition to your danger for coronary heart illness.

Consuming a wholesome diet, exercising commonly, sleeping properly, managing stress, and including mind-body rest strategies are all key to serving to management ache, fatigue, and irritation and managing RA, says Bose.

Folks with RA are at the next danger for sure forms of cancer due to continual irritation. Way of life adjustments may assist decrease this danger, Bose says.

Fable 7: As soon as you are feeling higher, you’ll be able to cease taking your remedy.

“The rationale you’re feeling higher is since you’re on the drugs, so whenever you cease it, your illness will come again,” Bose explains. RA is a continual situation. Some individuals go into remission, however for many, “the illness stays at a baseline, smoldering stage with good therapy,” she says.

Your rheumatologist needs to provide you as little medication as attainable. In case your illness has been in remission for a very long time, they’ll attempt to slowly cut back or cease your therapy, says Konig. This course of helps some individuals pinpoint the minimal quantity of remedy they should management their RA. Others are capable of cease therapy altogether, a minimum of for a time, he says.


It’s essential to notice that it is best to by no means cease your remedy with out speaking to your physician first. For one factor, these medicine work by weakening your immune system from its uncommon response, explains Konig. If you happen to cease taking them rapidly, there’s a excessive danger that your immune system will determine to behave up once more.

Generally, individuals cease taking their drugs as a result of they’re having uncomfortable side effects or don’t like the way it makes them really feel, notes Bose. If so for you, it’s essential to let your rheumatologist know that you simply’re having bother fairly than altering or stopping it by yourself, she advises. In case your subsequent appointment is a while away, attempt sending a message by means of your on-line affected person portal, or name your rheumatologist’s nurse for steerage.



KidsHealth from Nemours: “Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis.”

Max Konig, MD, rheumatologist, Johns Hopkins College Faculty of Drugs, Baltimore.

Hospital for Particular Surgical procedure: “Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis Lab Checks and Outcomes.”

Nilanjana Bose, MD, rheumatologist, Rheumatology Heart of Houston.

Mayo Clinic: “Rheumatoid arthritis: Is train essential?”

American Coronary heart Affiliation: “American Coronary heart Affiliation Suggestions for Bodily Exercise in Adults and Children.”

Arthritis Basis: “Rheumatoid Arthritis and Most cancers Threat.”

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