Blood test for rheumatoid arthritis
There are several types of blood tests that help your doctor or rheumatologist determine whether you have RA. These tests include:
- Rheumatoid factor test: This blood test checks for a protein called rheumatoid factor. High levels of rheumatoid factor are associated with autoimmune diseases, especially RA.
- Anticitrullinated protein antibody test (anti-CCP):This test looks for an antibody that’s associated with RA. People who have this antibody usually have the disease. However, not everyone with RA tests positive for this antibody.
- Antinuclear antibody test: This tests your immune system to see if it’s producing antibodies. Your body may make antibodies as a response to many different types of conditions, including RA.
- Erythrocyte sedimentation rate: This test helps determine the degree of inflammation in your body. The result tells your doctor whether inflammation is present. However, it doesn’t indicate the cause of the inflammation.
- C-reactive protein test: A severe infection or significant inflammation anywhere in your body can trigger your liver to make C-reactive protein. High levels of this inflammatory marker are associated with RA.
Rheumatoid arthritis medications
There are many types of medication for RA. Some of these medications help to reduce the pain and inflammation of RA. Some help to reduce flares and limit the damage that RA does to your joints.
The following medications help reduce the pain and inflammation during RA flares:
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
The following drugs work to slow the damage that RA can cause to your body:
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs): DMARDs work by blocking your body’s immune system response. This helps to slow down RA’s progression.
- Biologics: These new generation DMARDs provide a targetedresponse to inflammation rather than blocking your body’s entire immune system response. They may be an effective treatment for people who don’t respond to treatment with more traditional DMARDs.
- Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors: These are a new subcategory of DMARDs that block certain immune responses. These are drugs that your doctor may use to help prevent inflammation and stop damage to your joints when DMARDs and biologics don’t work for you.
Read more about the drugs used to treat RA.
Home remedies for rheumatoid arthritis
Certain home remedies and lifestyle adjustments may help to improve your quality of life when living with RA:
Low-impact exercises can help to improve the range of motion in your joints and increase your mobility. Exercise can also strengthen muscles, which can help to relieve some of the pressure from your joints. You can also try gentle yoga, which will help you regain strength and flexibility.
Get enough rest
You may need more rest during flare-ups and less during remission. Getting enough sleep will help to reduce inflammation and pain as well as fatigue.
Apply heat or cold
Ice packs can help to reduce inflammation and pain. They may also be effective against muscle spasms. You can alternate cold with hot treatments such as warm showers and hot compresses. These treatments may help to reduce stiffness.
Try assistive devices
Certain devices such as splints and braces can hold your joints in a resting position. This may help to reduce inflammation. Canes and crutches can help you maintain mobility, even during flares. You can also install household devices, such as grab bars and handrails in bathrooms and along staircases.
Rheumatoid arthritis diet
Your doctor or dietitian may recommend an anti-inflammatory diet for you to help with your symptoms. This type of diet includes foods that have lots of omega-3 fatty acids.
Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids include:
- fatty fishes, including salmon, tuna, herring, and mackerel
- chia seeds
- flax seeds
Antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C, and E, and selenium, may also help reduce inflammation. Foods high in antioxidants include:
- berries, such as blueberries, cranberries, goji berries, and strawberries
- dark chocolate
- kidney beans
Eating lots of fiber is also important, because according to some researchers, fiber may help reduce inflammatory responses which can be seen as a decrease in C-reactive protein levels. Choose whole grain foods, fresh vegetables, and fresh fruit. Strawberries may be particularly beneficial.
Foods containing flavonoids can also help to counter inflammation in the body.They include:
- soy products, such as tofu and miso
- green tea
What you don’t eat is just as important as what you do eat. Make sure to avoid trigger foods. These include processed carbohydrates and saturated or trans fats.
Rheumatoid arthritis causes
The cause of RA isn’t known. However, certain factors seem to have a role in increasing the risk of developing RA or triggering its onset. Factors that increase risk of RA include:
- being a woman
- having a family history of RA
Factors that may trigger onset of RA include:
- exposure to certain types of bacteria, such as those associated with periodontal disease
- having a history of viral infections like infection with the Epstein-Barr virus, which causes mononucleosis
- trauma or injury, such as bone breakage or fracture, dislocation of a joint, and ligament damage
- smoking cigarettes