The three most common types of arthritis: osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and gout. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect any joint in the body but often affects the smaller joints, including hands, wrists, fingers and elbows before any of the larger joints like the hips, knees, shoulders.
What is it?
Who can get it?
If you or a family member has rheumatoid arthritis, you may find that you have times when the disease flares up and causes problems, followed by periods when it is not active. In some people it burns itself out after several years.
- Pain in the joints
- Swelling (often accompanied by warmth and redness) of the joints
- Stiffness in the joints (generally worse in the mornings and after periods of rest)
- Muscle pain
- Mild fever
- Loss of appetite (with resulting weight loss)
- Changes to the skin and nails
- Anaemia can also occur, often compounding the feeling of fatigue and the feeling of being generally unwell.
Around a quarter of people with rheumatoid arthritis develop small, firm movable lumps under the skin called rheumatoid nodules. These usually appear under the skin around the joints and on the top of the arms and legs.
Other than prescribed drugs or surgery ?
Exercise and rest
A balance should be reached between exercise and rest. When the disease is active more rest may be appropriate. Rest will help reduce fatigue, pain and inflammation. Exercise is important to increase muscle strength, decrease joint deformities and stiffness, and to maintain mobility. An osteopath can recommend an appropriate exercise regime.
Care of joints
Joint protection and work simplification methods can be effective in decreasing joint pain and fatigue. An occupational therapist or osteopath can give advice on these. The use of splints or joint-sparing devices such as zipper pullers or long-handled shoehorns may be suggested.
Explore the Stretch for Life program and find a gentle and rewarding stretching routine that best suits you.