Learn how to live the best life possible with arthritis: Torani and Haddad Rheumatoid Arthritis Pharmacy offers advice on rheumatoid arthritis
Most common diseases:
the Psoriatic Arthritis: A unique type of inflammatory arthritis in that it can affect both the joints and the skin.
Inflamed joints in arthritis can be swollen and painful, while inflamed patches of skin called psoriasis can be itchy and scaly.
Psoriatic arthritis can also affect other parts of the body, including tendons in the feet, knees, hips or ribs.
Psoriatic arthritis belongs to a family of diseases called seronegative spondyloarthropathies. Other members of this family include ankylosing spondylitis, reactive arthritis and enteropathic arthritis.
L’arthrose (OA) The most common type of arthritis. It is caused by the breakdown of cartilage in the joints.
When the cartilage in a joint begins to break down, it causes swelling and pain in the joint. As the cartilage continues to wear away, the bones begin to rub against each other. This bone-on-bone contact causes stiffness, swelling and pain in the joint.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative form of arthritis and is a chronic (long-term) disease. Because this disease is caused by the wear and tear of cartilage, more people develop it as they age.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic (long-term) autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissues in many parts of the body including the joints, skin, and other organs.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is also referred to as lupus but it is important to understand that there are other types of lupus. In this article we refer to Systemic Lupus Erythematosus as Lupus.
Lupus causes a wide range of symptoms that can be very different from person to person. It is called the disease of 1000 faces as it can happen 1000 different ways in 1000 different people.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a chronic (long-term) condition that causes pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints. It is a systemic rheumatic disease, which means that the disease can affect the entire body.
It is one of the most common types of inflammatory arthritis and is estimated to affect 1% of the population.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease, meaning that it occurs when the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy cells and tissues. The reason why it does this is not well understood. When the body’s immune system is “activated” in this way, it can make a person feel very tired, similar to when they have the flu.
Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) is a chronic (long-term) type of inflammatory arthritis that causes stiffness and pain in the back.
Ankylosing means the fusion or melding of two bones into one. Spondylitis means inflammation of the spine. Chronic inflammation causes the spine to become stiff and inflexible.
Ankylosing Spondylitis belongs to a family of diseases called the seronegative spondyloarthropathies that also includes psoriatic arthritis, enteropathic arthritis and reactive arthritis.
Living with Arthritis
Exercise was once thought to increase pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. Specific exercise is now known to help reduce overall pain with no negative effects on disease activity or inflammation.
Benefits of Exercise
When exercise is done properly it can help to decrease pain, improve joint nutrition, and maintain mobility of the joints.
Exercise helps to improve muscle strength, joint stability, and maintain bone strength.
Exercise will also increase your fitness level, help you to lose weight, make you feel better about yourself, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve sleep.
Exercising in a Flare
Just like life, arthritis may have its ups and downs. The activity of your arthritis may “flare” up from time to time with more painful and swollen joints.
Overuse of an actively inflamed (warm, swollen, painful) joint may aggravate your arthritis and may increase joint damage. It is important to understand your body and the condition of your joints so that you can adjust your exercise routine accordingly.
Alcohol and Arthritis
Alcoholic beverages are not an effective treatment for any type of arthritis and can sometimes make arthritis worse.
Alcohol can make some diseases such as gout much worse.
L’alcool peut également interagir avec les médicaments. Quelques exemples de médicaments qui se mélangent mal avec l’alcool comprennent le méthotrexate de DMARD, l’Arava (léflunomide) et l’Imuran (azathioprine). Ce n’est pas une liste complète !
Alcohol can also interact with medications. A few examples of medications that mix poorly with alcohol include the DMARDs methotrexate, Arava (leflunomide), and Imuran (azathioprine). This is not a complete list!
If you are having problems getting to sleep, staying asleep, or waking up refreshed, this article features several tips and tricks to help you get a proper night’s rest.
Travel is still possible for people with arthritis. It is best to prepare in advance to ensure a safe and comfortable trip. Here’s the advice that rheumatologist Dr. Andy Thompson gives to his patients who are travelling:
Diet and Arthritis
Following the basics of healthy eating can help improve health and wellbeing in everyone, including those with arthritis.
Keeping a healthy weight helps reduce the load on weight-bearing joints including the spine, hips, and knees, making life easier.
Unfortunately, no special diet has ever been proven to significantly alter the course of any type of arthritis with perhaps the exception of gout. However, people always want to know what they can do to change their diet to improve their disease.
Sex and Arthritis
Although arthritis does not particularly cause a loss of sex drive, it can cause pain, fatigue and emotional hardships. These hardships risk creating barriers to sexual needs, ability, and satisfaction. People with arthritis can take comfort knowing that sex and intimacy can be maintained. In many cases, it can help draw partners closer together, especially through improved communication. For more information on intimacy and arthritis, a great book is: Rheumatoid Arthritis: Plan to Win by Cheryl Koehn, Taysha Palmer and John Esdaile.
Smoking and Arthritis
Smoking is not good for people with any type of arthritis. It can make symptoms worse and make arthritis harder to treat.
Research has shown that some arthritis medications do not work as well in people who smoke. Stopping smoking will increase the chances that medications will work at peak performance.
Work and Arthritis
The pain and stiffness caused by arthritis can sometimes limit people’s normal activities, including work.
There are many things people can do to lessen the impact of arthritis on their work and daily routine.
We recommend adjusting features of the workplace to help make working with arthritis easier.
For example, people that sit for much of the day can adjust the position of chairs and desks for proper posture. Vehicle seats can be adjusted to make driving more comfortable and reduce stress on joints and affected tissues.
Safety and NSAIDs
NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) are very helpful in relieving joint pain and swelling associated with osteoarthritis (OA) and many other forms of arthritis. They are the most widely used type of medication to treat arthritis.
Safety and Biologics
There are a few safety topics to consider with biologic medications. This article focuses on anti-TNF biologics in the treatment of patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Anti-TNF biologics are also used to treat a variety of other diseases in rheumatology. The same safety considerations apply.
Vaccinations for RA Patients
Vaccinations are an important consideration for patients with autoimmune forms of arthritis such as Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Care must be taken with vaccinations because these diseases are autoimmune disorders, and many of the medications used to treat them work by suppressing the immune system to a certain degree.
Vaccinations are also important because they can help protect people with weakened immune systems from getting sick with serious infections.
We recommend that patients always discuss all vaccinations with their doctor.
Depending on a person’s disease and medications, some vaccines (such as the flu shot) are generally very safe for people to get any time. Other vaccines (such as “live vaccines”) can only be safely administered under certain conditions, and must be coordinated with a doctor.
Breastfeeding and Medications
The benefits of breastfeeding are important to both mother and baby. Not every medication poses a risk during breast feeding but some do. It is important to discuss your medications with your doctor.
Pregnancy and Medications
Pregnancy, whether planned or a pleasant surprise, brings with it important concerns about prescription and over the counter medications. Not every medication poses a risk to your unborn baby; however, some do. It is important to talk to your doctor.
Rheumatoid Arthritis and Pregnancy
In general, healthy babies are born to healthy mothers. Before any pregnancy it is best to make sure you are as healthy as you can be.
Talk with your Rheumatologist when pregnancy planning in order to ensure you have the best possible experience. Active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and some medications may affect your ability to become pregnant and increase your risk of a miscarriage. It is best to make sure your disease is stable for 6 months before trying to get pregnant.
Did you know that 30-50% of pregnancies are unplanned? It’s important to talk to your rheumatologist if you are planning a family or considering pregnancy.
All women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should take folic acid daily and avoid alcohol and cigarettes.
Lupus and Pregnancy
In general, healthy babies are born to healthy mothers. Before any pregnancy it is best to make sure you are as healthy as you can be.
Talk with your rheumatologist when pregnancy planning in order to ensure you have the best possible experience. It is best to make sure your disease is stable for 6 months on meds safe in pregnancy before trying to get pregnant.
Did you know that 30-50% of pregnancies are unplanned? It’s important to talk to your rheumatologist if you are planning a family or considering pregnancy. Planned pregnancies are key to optimal maternal and fetal outcomes.
Are you having trouble getting pregnant? Some women with lupus have antibodies that can result in increased miscarriages. Talk to your doctor if you have a history of recurrent miscarriages.
Adherence: Sticking to a Treatment Plan
Taking medicines regularly for a chronic (life-long) disease like Rheumatoid Arthritis or Psoriatic Arthritis can be difficult and many people miss some doses.
If you’re not getting the most out of your treatment plan, there’s an important concept to consider called adherence, and it’s very important to maximizing your treatment success.
Adherence is a concept that doctors use to describe how well you are taking your medication.
Learn How to Inject: Autoinjectors
Its easy for patients and caregivers to learn how to perform a subcutaneous, or under-the-skin injection with an autoinjector.
This type of injection is also called a subq injection, pronounced “sub Q” (“sub cue”). Rheumatologist Dr. Andy Thompson will demonstrate an injection in the video lesson featured below on this page. The lesson is applicable a variety of medications used in rheumatology that are available in an autoinjector.
Learn How to Inject: Subcutaneous Injections
Its easy for patients and caregivers to learn how to perform a subcutaneous, or “under-the-skin” injection.
This type of injection is often called a subq injection, pronounced as “sub Q” (“sub cue”). Check out our video below to watch Dr. Andy Thompson, a rheumatologist, demonstrate how to perform an injection using a 2mL vial of methotrexate and a 1cc insulin syringe.
The video lesson is applicable a variety of medications used in rheumatology that must be taken by subcutaneous injection.
Learn How to Inject: Subcutaneous Injections with a Pre-Filled Syringe
Its easy for patients and caregivers to learn how to perform a subcutaneous, or under-the-skin injection with a pre-filled syringe.
This type of injection is also called a subq injection, pronounced “sub Q” (“sub cue”). Dr. Thompson, a rheumatologist, will demonstrate an injection in the following video using a syringe that has been pre-filled with medicine. This lesson is applicable a variety of medications used in rheumatology.
If your medication comes in a syringe that you need to fill on your own, you might be interested in:
This type of injection does not deliver medicine straight into the blood. It is absorbed by the small blood vessels under the skin. This is similar to how medication is absorbed when you take a pill or tablet: small blood vessels in the stomach or bowel absorb the medication.
Heat Therapy for Arthritis
Heat can help to decrease pain, relieve muscle spasm, increase the ability of muscles and other tissues to stretch, and improve circulation to the underlying tissue or joint.
Heat works by vasodilating (expanding) the blood vessels. This increases the circulation to the area where heat is applied. Heat also helps to decrease pain by stimulating sensory receptors that help to block the transmission of pain signals along the nerves.
Cold Therapy for Arthritis
Cold can help decrease pain, decrease swelling, and help reduce muscle spasms. Arthritic joints feel better and are able to function better when there is less swelling and pain.
Cold decreases swelling through vasoconstriction: shrinking of the blood vessels. When blood vessels are constricted, blood flow is decreased and the release of histamine is blocked. Blocking histamine decreases the feeling of pain.
Cold also stimulates sensory receptors that help to block the transmission of pain impulses that travel along the nerves. This temporarily increases a person’s pain threshold in the affected area.