Rheumatoid Arthritis can occur at any age

1) Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is more common in women than in men. It is thought to affect women two to three times more often than men.

2) The smaller joints, such as the ones in your feet and hands, are usually affected first during rheumatoid arthritis, but this can eventually spread to larger joints, tissues around the joints, and organs.

3) There is no cure for RA, but treatments including physical therapy, medications and/or surgery can keep the quality of life high for patients suffering from the disease.

4) Although RA can occur at any age, it is most commonly found among those between the ages of 40 and 60 years old.

5) Studies have proven that smoking can increase chances of developing RA. For reasons still unknown, those who smoke are twice more likely to develop the disease than non-smokers are. Quitting smoking can decrease your risk of developing the disease.

6) The most popular medications for RA include disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and aspirin, corticosteroids, cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitors, and antimalarial medications such as Azulfidine and Plaquenil.

7) Lifestyle choices such as eating a healthy diet, reducing stress, and exercising can help improve quality of life for those with RA. Although there is no certain special diet for those with RA, patients who keep their weight down have less likelihood of inflammation, while those who exercise are able to strengthen the muscles around their joints. Walking, swimming, and water aerobics are excellent exercises for those with RA.

8) Common symptoms of RA can include fever, weight loss, joint swelling and pain, low energy and weakness, and inflamed, tender, swollen hands. Most people with RA also experience pain, tenderness or stiffness in the morning upon waking.

9) Studies have shown that adding the omega-6 fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) or omega-3 fatty acids such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) or docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can help with stiffness and pain caused by RA.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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