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Rheumatoid Arthritis and Costochondritis What You Need to Know
According to the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), Costochondritis is a form of rheumatic chest pain, or "costly rheumatism," as it used to be called. It is characterized by severe pain in the chest, often radiating to both shoulders, which occurs in response to physical activity or after sitting for long periods. According to the ACR, if left untreated and not associated with an underlying condition such as arthritis or juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA), the pain will resolve without any permanent damage.
What is Costochondritis?
Costochondritis is a stiffening or inflammation of the cartilage that connects your ribs to your breastbone. It leads to severe chest pain when pressing on the area under one or both armpits. The stiffness or soreness may last for weeks before resolving itself without causing permanent damage.
What causes Costochondritis?
Costochondritis can occur when your ribcage and breastbone are injured by trauma. This injury could be as simple as lifting a heavy object or a car accident. It can also occur from a viral infection of the upper chest or can be associated with more painful rheumatic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
What are the symptoms of Costochondritis?
Pain in the breastbone and cartilage occurs when pressure is applied to these areas. The pain is often worsened by coughing, deep breathing, lying down, or moving your chest area. You may also feel pain in your shoulder, neck, upper arms, and back. There is usually no fever or swelling present in Costochondritis.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic condition affecting almost 8 million Americans. It is a disease caused by the body's immune system that attacks healthy tissue and can result in pain and damage to tissues throughout the body, including bones, joints, and organs. Despite having no known cause or cure, rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most commonly diagnosed autoimmune diseases.
What are Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms?
There is a wide range of symptoms associated with each individual, depending on what other inflammatory diseases are present at the time and where in the body they appear. Symptoms often appear symmetrically, affecting the same joints or groups of joints or body parts on both sides of the body. The most common symptoms include joint pain and stiffness, morning joint stiffness that gets better with movement, and fatigue.
Along with pain, swelling in joints is also characteristic of rheumatoid arthritis. Joints can swell both during the day and at night. The morning can be especially painful as this swelling reabsorbs into the body while you sleep throughout the night.
The disease process may cause painful, stiffened fingers that are difficult to straighten—a condition called "rheumatoid nodules."
What are the causes of rheumatoid arthritis?
It is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the joints and affects multiple small joints, such as the fingers, wrists, and elbows. These joint problems usually start in your teens or early 20s. The two most common types of rheumatoid arthritis are systemic and localized (or psoas), which cause inflammation throughout the entire body.
What is juvenile rheumatoid arthritis?
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder affecting children ages 4 to 10. It usually starts after initial infections or other minor illnesses. Although it is not as common as more severe forms of rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is generally easier to treat because children's immune systems are less efficient. In most cases, however, the disease progresses and becomes an adult form of rheumatoid arthritis.
What are the symptoms of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis?
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis can cause both physical and emotional problems. About 30 per cent of affected children will show signs of physical and emotional issues, while 40 per cent will have only one type or the other. Physical symptoms may include pain and stiffness in joints, swelling in joints, swollen lymph glands in the neck region, and poor growth. Emotional problems can manifest as difficulty concentrating, impulsive behavior, or extreme temper tantrums.
What is the prognosis of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis?
Although there is no cure for JRA, treatment may prevent permanent joint damage. Corticosteroids are a commonly used treatment for JRA, while other treatments include anti-inflammatory drugs and physical therapy. As a child ages, it begins to lose the disease's effects on its joints. They can slow down or stop their corticosteroid treatments without suffering long-term side effects. Although there is no cure for juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, early diagnosis and treatment usually result in more effective management and fewer joint problems throughout adulthood.
Precautions to take for Rheumatoid Arthritis and Costochondritis
Avoid over-restricting your diet, as it will make your symptoms worse.
Avoid excessive exercise, as this may cause your symptoms to worsen and can lead to knee or hip injuries.
Severe cases of rheumatoid arthritis are more prone to infections and must be closely monitored when they come under a doctor's care.
Avoid prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, as this may exacerbate rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
Also, deep tissue heating patches such as infrared heat packs can be beneficial in relieving pain in the affected joints while carrying out other activities you would normally do.
Avoid using supplements or medications that contain estrogen, as this may cause a flare-up in your condition.
Don't smoke, as it increases the risk of vascular disease, which can worsen rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. Also, smoking can increase your risk of developing lung cancer and heart diseases associated with arthritis.
Don't overdo the activity, as this may cause joint damage if you experience another attack in the future.
Driving and operating heavy machinery may be difficult and is not recommended if you have rheumatoid arthritis.
On a concluding note, despite having no known cause or cure, rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most commonly diagnosed autoimmune diseases. Unlike other chronic conditions that are poorly understood, it is not just a symptom of a different illness. Rheumatoid arthritis causes joint damage, with pain sometimes causing people to abandon their everyday activities. However, it can be controlled with the help of expert advice and proper treatment.
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