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Recently Diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis? How Physical Therapy in Denver Will Help

August 22, 2018

Each year, more than one million Americans are diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). While there is still much to be learned about this disease, there is quite a bit that is known about it. Today, advancements have been made allowing those who are coping with this condition easier to manage. If you have RA, it runs in your family, or you think you are seeing some signs, take the time to understand more about this disease. Between care from your doctor to working with physical therapy in Denver, you can live a long, happy, healthy, and comfortable life.

Intro to Rheumatoid Arthritis

RA is an autoimmune disease. This means that the body mistakes parts of itself as harmful intruders, creating a reaction to fight them away. Problem is, nothing is wrong at all, yet the body begins to attack itself trying to fight off what it believes to be a problem. There are several different types of autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, Type 1 diabetes, Celiac disease, lupus, psoriatic arthritis, and RA. Each of these autoimmune diseases creates a reaction to something that results in a reaction of the immune system. For RA, it is an attack on the joints and can happen anywhere throughout the body. It can also have a negative impact and cause infections of the heart, lungs, skin, eyes, and more.

While common in the elderly, it is also seen in adults in their 30s. It may slowly develop and not completely surface until decades later; each case of RA is different. Because it can build so slow, it may not always be as apparent to a physician that the root of the issue is early onset RA. This is why it is important to share with them if you have a history of RA in your family. Also, it is more prevalent in women than men.

Common Symptoms

One of the most common symptoms those with RA experience are swollen joints and inflammation. They may feel still and hard to move. It can be even more confusing because the pain isn’t always non-stop. They can come and go, leading you to think it’s a fluke or something you accidentally did. In addition, those suffering from this disorder often feel tired, suffer from anemia, lose weight, minor fevers, and more. Since these symptoms are so mixed, it is easy for a person to assume each issue is a separate problem and not all connected to one issue, that issue being RA. When the disease goes untreated for too long, there can actually be extensive damage done to the joints. This is why it is important to act quickly.

Leading Causes

The actual cause of RA has yet still to be discovered by doctors. However, they were able to find a few correlations. The most common is genetic. For those with RA that runs in their family, it automatically increases the chance they may get it. It can also happen due to an environment a person is in each day. Working in environments that are heavily polluted or filled with insecticides have been known to cause RA. Those who are not healthy are also at a higher risk of RA. This is especially true for smokers. In addition, this applies to those that are overweight. So, in some cases where it runs in the family, there may not be much control there. However, if you are a smoker or overweight, it’s never too early to turn things around, especially because RA is one of several different health issues that can negatively impact you.

Treatments and Management Plans

The earlier you and your doctor can start treating your RA, the better. When early, aggressive treatment is implemented, it’s been shown to reduce or even eliminate the swelling. One of the ways this is accomplished is by taking nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs, otherwise known as NSAIDs. These can include medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen, celecoxib, and more. This will keep the swelling down, allowing you to have a better range of motion and less stiffness. Corticosteroids are also used in minor forms of the disease to calm the inflammation as well. You can explore more about the different types of medicines through reading which drugs ease rheumatoid arthritis pain. In extreme cases where joints have been damaged, replacement surgery may be needed, which will also reduce the amount of pain a person has to experience each day.

What is a Rheumatologist?

Upon learning you have RA, it is important to begin working with a rheumatologist. Rheumatologists are trained professionals that specialize in RA to help their patients live as comfortably as possible. You can get a referral from your doctor, or in many cases, seek one on your own that falls within your insurance plan. The rheumatologist will run a various number of tests to look into the severity of your case and create a medication and recovery plan. The goal is to minimize flare-ups and inflammation that can become so problematic in the long term.

How Physical Therapy Will Help

In addition to working with a rheumatologist, it is also important for those with RA to work with a physical therapist. A physical therapist will help you maintain your range of motion in your joints, which is crucial. As time goes on and your RA progresses, it can be difficult to want to move. A physical therapist will create a plan specific to your condition to keep your body working together and reduce symptoms. Seeing a physical therapist is not overwhelming and difficult. They’ll help you every step of the way to help. Review more about preparing for your Denver physical therapy appointment if you have never been before.

As you are managing your RA, Peak Physical Therapy & Wellness can help. Our trained staff will create a plan custom to you that will ease your RA symptoms. This will help you maintain a healthy range of motion. Contact a Peak PT & Wellness location near you to schedule your first appointment—and stop suffering from this condition alone.