If you’ve recently been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, here are the next steps.
Rheumatoid arthritis (or RA) is a chronic disorder that causes inflammation in the joints and surrounding tissues, typically in the hands and feet. According to the Mayo Clinic, RA affects the lining of your joints and causes a painful swelling that can cause further problems with bone erosion and deformed joints. Rheumatoid arthritis cannot be cured, and treatments are focused instead on easing the condition.
If you have recently been diagnosed with RA, your condition may seem very daunting. But understanding the options open to you may help manage this painful condition.
Further tests. As advised by the National Library of Medicine, no single test can confirm whether you are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. As such, it is likely that you will undergo several tests. This will commonly include a rheumatoid factor test, which examines the level of an antibody in your blood. Other tests may include a complete blood count, an X-ray, an ultrasound or tests to examine the synovial fluid in your joints. Your doctor will be able to advise you on the most appropriate tests for you.
Treatment. According to the Mayo Clinic, a number of treatment options are option to you and sometimes may be combined in order to drive the best results. A number of different medications can be prescribed, alongside drugs that can be purchased over the counter. Therapists or counselors will be able to advise you on adjustments that you can make to your everyday life to make it easier to live with RA. In some cases, surgery may be required in order to correct deformities or restore the use of damaged joints.
Lifestyle changes. As an RA sufferer, you may have to make a number of adjustments to your lifestyle in order to minimize pain and reduce the risk of damage. It is important that you learn you physical limits and take care not to tire or place an unreasonable burden on your joints Simple, everyday activities may need to be managed in different ways to make them easier or less stressful on your joints. The Mayo Clinic suggests that short periods of rest during the day may need to be considered, provided that the naps don't interfere with your normal sleep.
Finding support. Any chronic health condition will have a significant impact on your everyday life, and it can be very important to ensure that you have the right support mechanism to help you manage the condition, as outlined by the Mayo Clinic. Online support groups can help you connect with fellow RA sufferers, and you should also ensure that your family and friends are aware of your condition and how you feel, so that they can support you appropriately. Take advantage of stress relief techniques to protect your mental well-being as well as your physical health.