Reumatoid Arthritis a Debilitating Disease Essay

This essay has a total of 1572 words and 9 pages.

Reumatoid Arthritis a Debilitating Disease

Rheumatoid Arthritis a Debilitating Disease

It began seven years ago when Sandra woke up and was getting out bed. She went to stand up
and she felt this severe pain in both of her feet. When she

looked at her feet they were swollen and bluish red and warm to the touch. She
could not understand what was happening. At first she thought she might have
frozen her feet. But as time went by she started to get lumps on the bottom of
her feet so she went to see the doctor. The doctor did some tests and he
diagnosed Sandra with having a disease called rheumatoid arthritis though it was a mild
case at the time. Over the past seven years it has became more severe, even doing little
day- to- day jobs has become more difficult.

Rheumatoid arthritis can be a crippling disease that causes painful swelling
and stiffness that mainly affects the wrists and fingers but it can also affect other
areas of the body (The Arthritis Society, 2001). The Statistics from the
Canadian Arthritis Society say it affects 300,000 Canadians, that is 1 in 10 will
develop rheumatoid arthritis. This paper will discuss what rheumatoid arthritis is, some
of the treatment for this disease and lifestyle changes that people can make to live a
better with rheumatoid arthritis.

What is rheumatoid arthritis? Doctors do not know what exactly causes rheumatoid
arthritis, but rheumatoid arthritis is a debilitating disease that has several special
features that makes it different from other kinds of arthritis. For example, rheumatoid
arthritis generally occurs in a well-formed pattern. This means that if a knee or hand is
involved, the other knee and hand are also involved (Nat’l Inst. Of Arthritis and
Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease, 1998). Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease where the
immune system begins to attack the joints. This causes an inflammation, usually in the
small joints of the hands, wrists, feet and many times spreading to the knees and hips.
The affected joints have pain, swelling, warmth, and stiffness after prolonged immobility,
extreme fatigue and loss of function (Rall & Roubenoff, 2000). In addition to affecting
the joints, rheumatoid arthritis may occasionally affect the skin, eyes, lungs, heart,
blood, nerves, and kidneys. You may also experience lessening of appetite, weight loss and
fevers. As well 20 per cent of people will develop lumps that form over the joints and
other parts of the body, that are called rheumatoid nodules and that can be rather painful
(The Arthritis Society, 2001). Rheumatoid arthritis affects every person differently. In
most patients, joint symptoms develop gradually over several years. In some patients,
rheumatoid arthritis may progress rapidly. Rheumatoid arthritis has a genetic or
inherited factor that makes some people more likely to develop this disease than others
(Shlotzhauer & McGuire, 1993). Twice as many women develop rheumatoid arthritis than men.
Most people will develop rheumatoid arthritis between the ages of 25 years and 50 years
old but rheumatoid arthritis can affect people of all ages from toddlers to seniors.

What are the treatments for rheumatoid arthritis? Most people with rheumatoid arthritis
seek a variety of treatments for their arthritis. The first defense to fight rheumatoid
arthritis is medication. According to the Arthritis Society, there are four types of
medications used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. One group of medication is
non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs; a medications that reduce the pain and swelling but
does not prevent further joint damage. The second type of medication is disease modifying
anti-rheumatic drugs; a group of medications that works by slowing or stopping the immune
system from attacking the joints. The third medication is oral cortisone, which is a
steroid that reduces inflammation and swelling. And the last group of medication is
biologics, a newer drug. These drugs block specific hormones which are involved in the
inflammatory process. These are the most common medications used in the fight against
rheumatoid arthritis. Another treatment is using heat from a heating pad or a hot pack to
relax the muscles, and reduce joint pain and soreness. Cold from an ice pack will help
lessen the swelling in the joints. Sandra says,” I fine that if I use heat on my
shoulders it helps quite a bit but, the rest of me my knees, or my hands, or my wrists ice
packs help me the most” (Appendix A). Another treatment is exercise. Three major
forms of exercise are appointed for people with rheumatoid arthritis: range of motion,
muscle strengthening, and endurance (Sholtzhauer & McGuire, 1993). Another treatment is
surgery where the doctors may cut the bones that are growing in a deformed manner and
causing pain. Surgery may be performed on joints that have caused the patient’s
significant loss of function (Dequense University, 1995). Relaxation is a treatment used
by some patients, relaxing the muscles around the inflamed joints to reduce the pain (the
Arthritis Society, 2001). Some people go outside of the medical community and search for
alternative therapies including: as acupuncture and acupressure, used to stimulate the
energy points; bee venom therapy using live bees to sting the inflamed joints; and copper
bracelets may be worn, to ease arthritis pain. Little improvement is shown with these
treatments, so there has to be more research done on them to prove their beneficial
effects (Horstman, 1999).

How will rheumatoid arthritis affect your lifestyle? Every time you experience pain you
will be reminded that you have rheumatoid arthritis, so you will have to make changes in
your lifestyle. In Coping With Rheumatoid Arthritis, Dr. Phillips suggests six changes
that will help you live a better life: plan activities in advance so you can avoid
excessive physical and emotional fatigue and strain. Reorganize rooms, working areas, and
other parts of your home to maximize efficiency and convenience. Try to arrange your
tasks so you avoid trips back and forth. Try to avoid carrying items in hands; when
possible use shopping carts or bags to put less stress on your joints. Try to avoid
excessive bending, straining or reaching; sit, if you can, rather than stand. When you
have prolonged periods of activities you should have a period of rest.
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