Tag Archives: arthritis

DIAGNOSIS: RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS

Sandra was forty years old when she first noticed that the joints in her hands and toes were tender, warm, and swollen. In the mornings, the joints were stiff, and her body ached. She said she felt like she had been run over by a Mack Truck. She knew something was wrong so she made an appointment with her doctor.

The following week she met with her doctor. Sandra described her current symptoms (pain, stiffness, tenderness, warm and swollen joints). The doctor examined each joint, looking for tenderness, swelling, warmth, and painful or limited motion. He noted that the joints on both sides of her body were affected. (Rheumatoid arthritis tends to affect joints on both sides of the body.)

Next, the doctor ordered blood tests to measure inflammation levels. The blood tests also look for biomarkers such as antibodies (blood proteins) linked with rheumatoid arthritis.

Finally, he ordered a magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI) to look for joint damage, such as loss of bone within the joint and narrowing of joint space. Note that the lack of joint damage does not rule out rheumatoid arthritis. It may mean that the disease is in an early stage and hasn’t yet damaged the joints.

While she waited for the results of the tests, Sandra researched osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis on her computer. She discovered that osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. According to https://www.everday health.com/rheumatoid-arthritis, it affects over 30 million adults in the United States. It is also known as degenerative arthritis, and it is also called wear-and-tear arthritis. Osteoarthritis typically occurs in older adults.

By contrast, rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune, inflammatory, systemic disease. The immune system attacks healthy cells in the body by mistake. This results in inflammation, pain, and swelling in affected body parts. Rheumatoid arthritis typically attacks several joints symmetrically. It may also affect organs such as the heart, lungs, and eyes.

The test results showed that Sandra did indeed have rheumatoid arthritis. What caused this? Doctors don’t know what causes rheumatoid arthritis. However, according to https://www.mayoclinic.org, the following risk factors have been identified:

  • Being female.
  • Your age. Rheumatoid arthritis most commonly begins between the ages of 40 to 60.
  • Family history. If a member of your family has rheumatoid arthritis, you may have an increased risk of getting the disease.
  • Smoking. Cigarette smoking increases your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Environmental exposure. Exposure to asbestos or silica may increase your risk for developing rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Obesity. People who are overweight or obese appear to be at somewhat higher risk of rheumatoid arthritis, especially women diagnosed with the disease when they were 55 or younger.

If you have a family member who has a serious illness and needs private duty nursing, call American Home Health at (630) 236-3501. The agency can provide round-the-clock nursing care by Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). Our service area covers fifteen counties in Northern Illinois including Cook, Lake, McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, Grundy, Will, and Kankakee. American Home Health is licensed by the State of Illinois and accredited by the Joint Commission. For further information, go to www.ahhc-1.com, or call (630) 236-3501.

—By Karen Centowski

LIVING WITH ARTHRITIS

Did you know that arthritis is the leading cause of disability among adults in the United States? In fact, according to the Arthritis Foundation, about 54 million adults have doctor diagnosed arthritis. In addition, almost 300,000 babies and children have arthritis or a rheumatic condition.

Who gets arthritis? According to the Arthritis Foundation fact sheet at https://www.arthritis.org, “Doctor-diagnosed arthritis is more common in women (26 percent) than in men (18 percent). In some types, such as rheumatoid arthritis, women far outnumber men. Almost two-thirds of adults in the U.S. with arthritis are working age (18-64 years). Arthritis and other non-traumatic joint disorders are among the five most costly conditions among adults 18 and older.”

The Arthritis Foundation fact sheet also states that “Arthritis is much more common among people who have other chronic conditions. Forty-nine percent of people with heart disease have arthritis. Forty-seven percent of adults with diabetes have arthritis. Thirty-one percent of adults who are obese have arthritis.”

Did you know that Medicare will pay for certain individuals receiving physical therapy or other services at home? There are certain criteria that must be met, including the following:

  1. A physician must prescribe home care.
  2. The patient must be homebound. Brief, intermittent trips outside the house are permitted.
  3. The care must be skilled. Medicare will pay for a nurse or therapist, but not for a home health aide.
  4. The care must be necessary and reasonable.

The Arthritis Foundation sponsors events to raise funds. Walk to Cure Arthritis, the largest arthritis gathering in the world, raised $6,652,872. The Jingle Bell Run, a festive 5K race with a USA Track & Field certified course, raised $966,602.

Bone Bash, a Halloween themed event, includes spooky decorations, costume contests, a silent auction or live auction, and entertainment including music, games, etc. Bone Bashes can range from informal concerts to elegant sit-down dinners or masquerade balls.

Other fund-raising events range from black-tie galas and tribute dinners to wine tastings and themed parties that benefit the Arthritis Foundation.

If you have a family member who needs private duty nursing, call American Home Health at (630) 236-3501. The agency can provide round-the-clock nursing care by Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). Our service area covers fifteen counties in Northern Illinois including Cook, Lake, McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, Grundy, Will, and Kankakee. American Home Health is licensed by the State of Illinois and accredited by the Joint Commission. For further information, go to www.ahhc-1.com, or call (630) 236-3501.

—By Karen Centowski