Rheumatoid arthritis: Eyes and eight other non-joint areas affected by arthritis

Arthritis: Doctor gives advice on best foods to help ease pain

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Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term condition that causes pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints. The main casualties are usually the hands, feet and wrists. Some people with rheumatoid arthritis also experience problems in other parts of the body.

In fact, about 40 percent of the people who have rheumatoid arthritis also experience signs and symptoms that don’t involve the joints, reports the Mayo Clinic.

Rheumatoid arthritis can affect many non-joint structures, including:

  • Skin
  • Eyes
  • Lungs
  • Heart
  • Kidneys
  • Salivary glands
  • Nerve tissue
  • Bone marrow
  • Blood vessels.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the intensity of signs and symptoms may vary and may even come and go.

“Periods of increased disease activity, called flares, alternate with periods of relative remission — when the swelling and pain fade or disappear,” the health body explains.

It adds: “Over time, rheumatoid arthritis can cause joints to deform and shift out of place.”

How to respond

The NHS says: “See a GP if you think you have symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, so they can try to identify the underlying cause.”

As the health body points out, diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis quickly is important, because early treatment can prevent it getting worse and reduce the risk of joint damage.

“If the GP thinks you have rheumatoid arthritis, they’ll refer you to a specialist (rheumatologist).”

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How to alleviate symptoms

Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms can make it hard to perform even basic tasks, undermining quality of life.

Unfortunately, rheumatoid arthritis doesn’t have a cure, but you can take steps to relieve symptoms.

Diet is not a miracle worker, but it can reduce the severity of symptoms.

That’s because the right food choices can help by controlling the inflammation that wreaks havoc in the body, delivering nutrients your body needs and helping you maintain a healthy weight, explains the Arthritis Foundation (AF).

It’s vital to lose weight if you’re overweight because excess weight adds to pressure on achy joints and can make certain rheumatoid arthritis meds less effective.

“What’s more, body fat produces proteins called cytokines that promote inflammation,” warns the AF.

Studies show that a Mediterranean diet, with lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats is a good choice for people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Another effective way to lose weight that can bring direct benefits for rheumatoid arthritis is exercise.

Exercising regularly may seem ill-advised if you’re experiencing arthritis pain but the opposite is true.

It can help relieve stress, help keep your joints mobile, and strengthen the muscles supporting your joints, explains the NHS.

“Find the best activities and the right balance for you. It’s usually best to increase the amount of exercise you do gradually,” advises the health body.

“If a particular activity causes your joints to become warm and swollen, or it causes severe pain, then stop and rest.”

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