Vasculitis

Facts About Arthritis and Vasculitis

Rheumatoid Arthritis and vasculitis can often appear in conjunction with one another due to the fact that arthritis is an immune system disease that can cause damage to blood vessels, causing vasculitis.  When rheumatoid arthritis attacks blood vessels vasculitis can often result, causing visible damage to the skin.  While this has not been proven those with vasculitis often already have arthritis, hence the conclusion therein.  Vasculitis can be a symptom of an immune system disorder, while rheumatoid arthritis is an immune system disorder.  This cause and effect relationship is the hallmark of a patient having both disorders at once.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is an immune system disease that affects the joints of a person’s body initially and then has the potential to move into the organs.  While most people think that arthritis is exclusively responsible for aches and pains in all actuality it is much more than that.  Arthritis causes a patient’s immune system to act against their body, causing damage to various systems and even organ failure (possibly death).  Joint pain is the primary symptom many think of when considering whether or not someone has arthritis.  Rheumatoid Arthritis has no known cure, it is treated by either suppressing a patient’s immune system with medications or treating the symptoms caused by arthritis.

Rheumatoid Arthritis or RA is the most painful and sometimes deadly form of arthritis because of the immune system malfunction that occurs within a patient’s body.  Organ failure and other problems that arise from an immune system disorder are often life changing events, this is why those with RA should stay up to date on what the disease is doing so that they can receive the proper medical care.  Lupus can occur alongside RA causing hair loss, renal failure and respiratory problems.

Furthermore the more serious disorders attributed to arthritis and other less serious (although extremely painful) disorders such as gout fall under the umbrella of arthritis.  Gout may not be life threatening (as RA can be), however it can be debilitating in light of the fact that it can cause joints to swell to the point that they cannot be used, rendering some immobile since gout often occurs in the feet.  Psoriasis is another form of arthritis and much like RA is an immune system disorder than causes a body’s immune system to attack its own cells.  Psoriasis can eventually lead to psoriatic arthritis, causing pain in skin and joints as well as organ damage.

Arthritis is the most common disabling disease in the US.  There are over 20 million people living with the pain of arthritis every day.  Arthritis is the number one reason for lost wages and medical visits to free clinics, it is the most expensive and common chronic illness in America.  Many of those who develop arthritis no longer wish to work or leave their homes, often they apply for Social Security or other social programs.  Arthritis is a condition that if cured the whole world would stand to benefit, a good deal of people are guaranteed to develop the condition as they become older.

Tennis Elbow

Living With Arthritis Tennis Elbow

The condition known as tennis elbow is the result of arthritis of the elbow through strenuous physical activity, it is not the result of an immune system disorder such as rheumatoid arthritis.  In some cases an immune system disorder such as RA can actually cause the body’s immune system to attack healthy tissue like the cartilage found in the elbow.  Once the cartilage is depleted the only way to relieve pain from tennis elbow is to perform surgery and either transplant cartilage to the area from another part of the body or use a prosthetic “cartilage simulating” implant.

Once you have tennis elbow it can cause tenderness and swelling, and pain so severe it is difficult to move the arm.  Pain management is often necessary in addressing tennis elbow so that the patient can move their arm relatively pain free.  Tennis elbow is not only caused by playing tennis, many different athletic or everyday physical activities can cause it as well.  Most of those who suffer from tennis elbow were either athletes or those who used their arm to perform repetitive motion at work or at home.

During studies medical professionals noticed that many athletes (particularly tennis players) did in fact have tennis elbow, however in many cases it was contingent upon either a player’s overall number of years playing or the presence of a poor technique.  In order to determine whether or not a patient’s cartilage damage is serious enough to warrant a diagnosis of tennis elbow X-rays are performed to make sure that it is not a fracture or arthritis.  The number of tendon injuries over time will determine the likelihood of whether a person has tennis elbow or some other injury.  It is very important to try and avoid repeated injuries to tendons in the arm because they can result in tennis elbow.

Treatment for tennis elbow is vast and varied, depending on how serious the injury in many cases simply resting can alleviate much of the pain.  In addition to resting in many cases doctors will order a series of simple exercises to increase strength and flexibility in the elbow area.  Heat or ice is also a favorite to relax and numb the affected area in an effort to bring comfort to the patient while they heal.  There are also many cases in which soft tissue massage can be useful in encouraging the patient to heal.

There are other treatments to consider however they are considered extreme by many physicians and patients alike.  In some cases an injection of steroids is suggested and will encourage faster healing in the affected area, however if too many steroids are used the fat cells in that area will die leaving a marked area where the flesh appears to “cave in” at the injection site.  Almost 40% of tennis players have reported problems with their elbow and less than a quarter of them were under 45 years old.  Like many other forms of joint problems women found them more troubling than men.

Sjogrens Syndrome

Facts About Sjogrens Syndrome

Sjogren’s disease is an immune system disorder much like arthritis, except that instead of attacking the skin or joints immune system cells attack the exocrine glands.  Exocrine glands are responsible for producing tears and saliva.  This disease affects women far more often than men and it typically occurs in the late 40’s.  It can occur by itself or in conjunction with rheumatoid arthritis or scleroderma.  The largest symptom of Sjogren’s is dryness of the mouth or eyes, it can also cause dryness in the skin, vagina and nose.  The disease may also move on to organs within the body like many other immune system diseases.

Sjogren’s syndrome is so close to other immune system disorders in terms of symptoms that it is difficult to distinguish between Sjogren’s and many other immune system disorders.  The Schirmer test is a means of measuring tear production in order to figure out whether or not someone has Sjogren’s, it is conducted with a strip of special paper to measure moisture levels. Testing for Sjogrens orally involves seeing how much saliva production is done by the mouth in a five-minute period.  While it is easy to test for Sjogren’s disease it is unfortunately without a cure as are many other immune system disorders.

In the later stages of the disease a lack of moisture in the eyes can cause serious problems with regard to vision in addition to large degree of pain being experienced with regard to the eyes themselves.  Even eye drops and over the counter forms of moisture do little to halt the lack of moisture from becoming worse over time.  One of the ways to preserve your own natural moisture is to plug the inactive tear ducts so that the moisture remains on your eyes longer.

Since the mouth will inevitably be dry from Sjogren’s having preventative maintenance done on your teeth will help to keep them from being damaged quickly by the lack of moisture. Bacteria are able to replicate themselves much easier in a dry mouth and as a result cavities are caused far more frequently in the mouth of someone that has Sjogren’s syndrome.  Any existing cavities must be treated immediately if a patient tests positive for Sjogren’s disease because otherwise they can worsen and cause tooth loss.  Preventative maintenance of a patient’s body is very important if they test positive for Sjogren’s disease.

Sjogren’s can spread into the body’s organs much like arthritis and other immune diseases.  Unlike other immune system diseases though Sjogren’s does not go into remission so it will cause serious problems to a patient for their entire life.  Pain management and other measures are useful when treating Sjogren’s, however there is no cure and any suppression of one’s immune system leaves the body vulnerable to disease.  Addressing the complications that arise from this disorder are a tricky situation in and of themselves and should be approached with caution.  Make sure to evaluate all of your options during and after your diagnosis and make informed decisions.

Shoulder Pain

Learning About Arthritis Related Shoulder Pain

Shoulder arthritis is a condition that affects the ball and joint of the shoulder that connect the arm bone to the shoulder blade socket causing damage to the cartilage.  The thin layer of cartilage between bones is gradually broken down when there is arthritis present.  Having arthritis in the shoulder area is very common, especially among athletes such as baseball pitchers who use their shoulders more than most people do. Every time this cartilage is used there is less left and over time it is stripped away.

There is an immense amount of pain when arthritis enters the shoulder area because once the cartilage is worn away the bones grind against one another.  The treatments used commonly are aimed specifically at pain management; the only way to replace cartilage currently is through surgery.  Many cannot afford surgery of this type due to its “non-essential” classification many HMOs will not pay for it.  In some cases cryo therapy is used as a compress not only to dull the pain but also slow down the cartilage deterioration.  However there are different types of arthritis that can cause shoulder pain.  Rheumatoid arthritis for instance is a disease of the immune system that causes the body’s immune system to destroy the cartilage.

There is no known cure for rheumatoid arthritis, however there are treatments such as surgery and some drugs that can suppress the immune system.  These drugs leave the body open to other forms of disease.  Furthermore it is also possible to lose the cartilage in your shoulder through accidents (car accidents are common), this is also considered arthritis.  While it may seem like a bleak condition there are methods of pain management that make living with this disease bearable.

In extreme cases of pain your physician may opt to injecting medicine directly into the shoulder to aid in pain management.  It is also possible to have surgery in which a prosthetic ganoid arthroplasty is performed to artificially replace the cartilage.  The most popular form of treatment with shoulder pain however is the utilization of ice to cause numbness and cooling of the skin and reduce swelling.  While some forms of shoulder arthritis are not preventable it is important to remember that it is possible to cause it yourself if you are careful.  Do not overburden or overtax your shoulder or you could find yourself without cartilage.

Shoulder arthritis is very often an athlete’s disease and it shows in those who use their bodies with reckless abandon in their youth.  Taking the time to let your body rest and heal in between strenuous activities is key in avoiding the pitfalls of serious (and lasting) injury later on in life.  Without even the ability to sleep on an affected shoulder someone who has shoulder arthritis faces a lot of complications in life.  As with most other diseases catching the situation early will allow your Doctor to preserve as much of your cartilage as is possible since arthritis is a degenerative disease.

Scleroderma

Scleroderma and You

Scleroderma much like arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes skin problems such as discoloration, hardening and vascular system disruptions.  The first variation of Scleroderma is known as limited systemic sclerosis, this disease causes deformity in the face, hands and arms.  The other variant is called diffuse systemic sclerosis which can do major damage to the body’s organs.  There is no treatment for Scleroderma itself however there are things can be done to repair or reverse the damage done to organs affected by it.  As long as the disease does not spread to the heart there is little to no chance of a fatality through Scleroderma.

Scleroderma is believed to be a genetic disease since no environmental causes have been identified so far, however the gene that causes scleroderma has not been identified either.  Other immune system diseases such as arthritis have proved to be caused by certain genes.  One’s family history inevitably plays a part in Scleroderma and those with family members who have the disease should notify their physician.  In some cases Scleroderma can cause cellular apoptosis (cell death) in which there can be heavy losses in some bodily systems.  When this occurs the body’s immune system does further damage by rallying T cells to the site of apoptosis.

Scleroderma typically manifests through a thickening of the skin in addition to blood vessel collapse and/or hardening.  The hands, fingers and feet of someone with Scleroderma can also swell up from the disease.  Additional symptoms can include extreme extremity discoloration (white and blue fingers and hands) that can even result in amputation.  Like many other arthritic-type conditions scleroderma is aggravated by cold weather so living in a hot climate is a good idea.  At its advanced stages scleroderma can spread to the organs of a patient causing immense damage.

While rare scleroderma can cause renal failure in the kidneys, this was once a regular cause of death but it now treatable.  If it travels to the lungs scleroderma can cause shortness of breath as well as coughing, shortness of breath and other respiratory problems.  There have been cases in which the esophagus and stomach were damaged to the point of causing acid reflux disease and difficulty swallowing.  Intestinal damage can result in a decreased ability to digest food and possibly anemia.  Carpal tunnel is another common condition caused by scleroderma although it is much less serious than conditions listed previously.

While treatment for scleroderma does not exist (there is no cure) there are treatments available to combat the damage the disease does to a patient’s body.  This ensures that one’s life is not easily cut short by Scleroderma and most of the time those with Scleroderma can lead relatively pain free lives.  The older a patient is the more likely it is that Scleroderma will be fatal, this is due to the fact that older people often have more health problems than those who are young.  This means that the organs are more open to damage and eventual failure from the immune system disease.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

An Overview of Rheumatoid Arthritis

The condition of rheumatoid arthritis is a disorder that causes inflammation in joints and can also affect one’s organs.  In the long term rheumatoid arthritis causes cartilage damage and pain when breathing.  The cause of rheumatoid arthritis remains a mystery to those in medical field however it is thought that there is some genetic predisposition towards the condition.  The disorder is classified as a systemic autoimmune disease due to the body’s immune system attacking its own cells and organs.

A very small percentage of the world’s population (around 1%) has rheumatoid arthritis.  The typical age when symptoms show for the disease occur when a patient is in their 40’s or 50’s.  For some the disease can be so severe that it causes a disability in the patient to where they are unable to care for them self.  Often it can cause a contracting of the joints in the hand to where it is nearly impossible stretch out one’s fingers.  RA is so serious that it has its own type of doctor, a rheumatologist who specializes in caring for patients who suffer from the disease.   These doctors are also experts in immune system disorders.

There are numerous treatments that can be utilized for symptom suppression and pain management.  Physical and nutritional therapy can be used to increase the body’s overall health and make it more resilient to damage caused by the immune system.  In cases of extreme pain prescription painkillers are used so that the patient can accomplish everyday activities relatively pain free.  Immune system suppression drugs can also be used to counteract the damage someone’s own immune system is doing to their body.  Such drugs however leave that persons body open to infection and other complications.

The pain in joints seen with RA is actually caused by a breakdown of the lining between the joint and the bone, not the joint itself.  Rheumatoid arthritis and arthritis in general are usually associated with aching joints, however this immune system disorder can cause problems within the bodies other systems through organ damage.  There have also been instances of anemia in many of those who have RA, however it is impossible to tell (with current technology) whether the disease is being caused by RA or coincidental.  This is due to the side effects of many drugs used to address the symptoms of RA.

After a while RA spreads to other joints within the body and not necessarily one close to the joint already affected.  RA can also affect the spine to the point of immobilization, if treated early on however it is possible to avoid this reality however it is key to seek out treatment.  RA can also cause fibrosis within the lungs, it is not known however whether the disease itself causes fibrosis or if the condition is a side effect of medications used to treat the patient.  Heart problems can arise from RA and in very rare cases arthritis can move to the eyes causing dryness and severe vision problems, both of these possibilities occur when RA is an advanced state..

Reactive Arthritis

A Summary of Reactive Arthritis

The condition known as reactive arthritis or Reiter’s syndrome is an autoimmune disease that occurs after an infection has taken place in another part of the body.  Both viral and bacterial infections can cause an occurrence of Reiter’s syndrome to manifest.  The symptoms caused by Reiter’s greatly resemble those caused by arthritis.  Even after the initial infection is cured Reiter’s disease can still occur for years afterward, this makes ascertaining the initial contraction of the disease difficult to pinpoint.  Symptoms of reactive arthritis do however generally take two to three weeks to be visible.

Reiter’s syndrome is named for a German doctor named Hans Reiter who contributed to the classification and definition.  The symptoms of Reiter’s syndrome greatly resemble arthritis, aching joints in the knees and back as well as eye irritation.  It is also possible to display external symptoms such as those associated with psoriasis via lesions and pain in joints near the foot, in some rare cases men can develop penile lesions.  Those most commonly affected by this disease are between the ages of 20-40 years old.  If the disease worsens over time reactive arthritis can cause cardiac problems as well.

Often reactive arthritis is caused by Chlamydia, an STD that is a bacterial infection.  Reactive Arthritis can manifest in the digestive system as a result of an infection from Chlamydia, such a manifestation resembles Crohn’s disease.  An MRI is sometimes necessary to diagnose Reactive arthritis conclusively in some cases.  It is important that you treat every infection your body goes through with the utmost urgency to avoid a possible complication such as Reactive Arthritis.  Remembering that reactive arthritis can often be avoided by addressing every infection with caution is a great way to stay out of harm’s way where this complication is concerned.

Women who contract reactive arthritis may go un-diagnosed, however some studies conducted have shown that less than 1 percent of women infected with Chlamydia develop reactive arthritis.  The arthritic symptoms can be treated with conventional anti-inflammatory drugs to soothe aches and pains.  In some cases among men there can be complications that affect the eyes in unusual cases of reactive arthritis.  In women there can be complications involving the genitalia much like with men, except that it can go inside the body cavity to affect the cervix.  Such complications in women can have adverse effects during pregnancy or sexual activity.

The genetic disposition towards reactive arthritis has been proven to occur in 75% of those who tested positive for the gene.  Reactive arthritis has been known to stop causing symptoms after the causal infection has been cured in some cases.  In other cases reactive arthritis can be recurring and cause symptoms for years after the initial infection has been cured.  In some cases the arthritis can in fact be debilitating and prevent those who suffer from the disease from completing everyday tasks.  While a few of those who suffer from arthritis can suffer from complications that can shorten their lifespan most will live full and relatively normal lives.

Raynaud’s Phenomenon

Raynaud’s Phenomenon Explained

When circulation is cut off to a limb or extremity discoloration can often occur through a reddening or paling effect to the skin.  It is a vascular disease that often occurs in conjunction with arthritis, although it can occur by itself (in this case it is referred to as Raynaud’s disease).  Cases of Raynaud’s disease are far less common than secondary Raynaud’s syndrome.  In some cases extreme discoloration can actually be a sign of gangrene or the formation of necrotic tissue.  If you notice any severe skin discoloration localized in your extremities you need to contact a physician immediately.

The discoloration caused by Raynaud’s disease can be accompanied by numbness due to an adverse effect on the blood supply to that area of the body.  Much like arthritis those with Raynaud’s syndrome should avoid cold climates, although in the case of Raynaud’s there is more at stake than additional discomfort.  With Raynaud’s disease there is a good chance of limb loss if you are in a cold climate in which your condition can be aggravated.  The skin can turn white, red and even blue when a case of Raynaud’s is untreated or severe.  In cold climates one’s skin tends to turn white, a depletion of oxygen is marked by a blue color and immediately after either condition is corrected the skin will turn a bright red temporarily after circulation is restored.

In many cases more often than not women are diagnosed with Raynaud’s than men (regardless of the presence of arthritis) and has been known to occur with some regularity for breastfeeding mothers.  In addition to the fingers and toes being effected by Raynaud’s the nose and earlobes can also be susceptible.  Raynaud’s can often be an initial presenting symptom for rheumatoid arthritis up to 20 years before the disease manifests.  If you have symptoms of Raynaud’s be sure to get checked out for possible problems with arthritis later on.

Living in a warm climate if you have Raynaud’s is a very, very good idea because cold weather could aggravate or even worsen your condition.  If you do happen to experience cold weather or cold conditions and your disease is aggravated there are emergency measures that can be taken to safeguard your health.  If your skin turns white you should run warm water over the affected area and slowly increase the heat until your skin color returns to normal.  If no warm water is available put the discolored area into a warm part of your body such as your mouth or inner thigh (if possible).

In some extreme cases surgery may be necessary to correct for complications caused by Raynaud’s.  Surgery for the treatment of Raynaud’s involves either amputation or the injection of affected tissue with prostacyclin.  In many cases these injections greatly reduced and almost eliminated the pain caused by Raynaud’s.  In some isolated cases however amputation of the affected area is the best course of action for eliminating pain and greatly aid avoiding possible gangrene breakouts later on.

Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic Arthritis at a Glance

The disease known as psoriatic arthritis is a very painful condition to have, it can make everyday tasks nearly impossible to complete.  Unknown to many is the possible link between psoriasis and arthritis, while not proven the odds of someone with psoriasis developing arthritis are far greater than someone who did not have psoriasis.  This possible causal relationship is something that can be utilized by those with psoriasis to take preventative measures before arthritis develops.  After psoriatic arthritis develops the treatment available typically comprises different medications and some light physical therapy.

Anti-inflammatory drugs are often prescribed to lessen the pain of psoriatic arthritis while in more severe cases antirheumatic drugs are prescribed.  In certain situations the use of painkillers may also be authorized.  Psoriatic arthritis is a particularly debilitating condition due to the added symptoms of skin problems in addition to sore joints and aches.  To this end in many cases both psoriasis and arthritis will be treated by prescriptions, treating the psoriasis will remove any visible symptoms of the disease. In some cases psoriatic arthritis can cause swollen fingers and hands as well as feet.

Psoriatic Arthritis occurs from a malfunction in the immune system where your immune system’s cells begin to attack healthy cells.  The cause for this phenomenon is as of yet unknown, this causes the formation of abnormal skin cells (psoriasis) and pain in your joints (arthritis).  It is thought that the cause for psoriatic arthritis is both genetic and environmental, some have even gone so far to say that a pregnant mother’s stress level may impact a child’s health in this way.  Bacterial and viral infections are also thought to possibly play a role where psoriatic arthritis is concerned.

If your spine is where the disease is concentrated symptoms manifest with a good deal of stiffness in the back and a burning sensation in the lower back specifically.  This may sound a bit scary but in reality with proper medication psoriatic arthritis is a completely manageable disease.  The pain will flare up some days more so than others (cold weather can often be an aggravating factor).  Staying inside on a cold day can make a big difference when trying to avoid pain, other aggravating factors can include excessive heat or strenuous physical activity.  The main things to consider when practicing pain management where arthritis is concerned are any severe changes in temperature, strenuous physical activities and even stress.

Those who have psoriasis should be prepared for the possibility of developing psoriatic arthritis at some point, discuss your concerns with your physician and plan ahead regarding medication and other treatment.  Read up on psoriatic arthritis at length so that you can know ahead of time what you are facing if you are diagnosed with either psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis.  Knowing what you are facing can make all of the difference in the world when coping with a chronic, painful condition.  While at times the pain will be severe knowing that others share your condition and want to help can help out a lot.S

The Dual Affliction of Polymyositis and Dermatomyositis

These conditions come from muscle inflammation. The underlying cause of the condition is not immediately clear but research is ongoing. The origin of the condition is associated with changes in the immune cells or white blood cells. They will begin to undergo inflammation. They then spontaneously invade the muscle tissue. The muscles closes to the torso or trunk will be affected. That may lead to severe weakness in the area. This is a chronic condition that is characterized by periods of calm followed by flares or relapses. There are some patients that have no symptoms while others are in constant remission. The prevalence in women is slightly higher than in males. All age groups can be affected by Polymyositis and dermatomyositis. Middle childhood up to the twenties is the age range that will often develop the condition. The patient might develop a skin rash in the area. The condition can be associated with diseases of the connective tissue such as lupus erythematosus or scleroderma.

Managing Polymyositis and dermatomyositis

Researchers have not yet fully isolated the causes of Polymyositis and dermatomyositis. Heredity might be one of the causes but there is nothing to definitively put it within the possible causes. A virus might be associated with the condition depending on the types of symptoms seen in the patient. The muscle tissue might be checked out to identify the causes of the symptoms. There are a few tips for the patient

  1. Consult with the physician: It is important to consult with a specialist in this area. Polymyositis and dermatomyositis can be very frightening conditions that will bewilder the patient. They need to be under the supervision of a specialist. That way they can get the support that is required.
  2. Follow the treatment program: Once a treatment program has been agreed, it is imperative that the patient follows it. There are some patients that will stop when it appears that the treatment program is inconvenient. This will make matters worse and could be a factor in the development of other conditions that are associated with this condition.
  3. Report any symptoms: The treatment program will not be helped unless you report any changes in your condition. That is the responsible thing to do because then the treatment program can be changed accordingly. You might be able to handle the various adjustments that are recommended by the physician.
  4. Go for regular checkups: The development of Polymyositis and dermatomyositis is chronic in nature. Therefore the expectation is that the patient will get regular checkups to ensure that they are getting the maximum benefits from the treatment program.

When you develop Polymyositis and dermatomyositis, there is a lot of uncertainty. The support of a good physician can reduce some of your anxieties. This condition is often associated with extreme muscle weakness and therefore the patient might have to get support networks in order to live within their home. If the patient is in their twenties then it is imperative that they get counseling to cope with some of the symptoms of the disease.