Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation in the joints, leading to pain, stiffness, and swelling.

Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Anchor Health and Performance Icon
is this treatment right for you?

Your Guide to Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease that primarily affects the joints, causing inflammation, pain, stiffness, and swelling. Unlike osteoarthritis which is caused by wear and tear on the joints, rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the healthy tissues in the body, particularly the synovium (the lining of the joints). This immune response leads to persistent inflammation in the joints, which can eventually cause damage to the cartilage, bone, and other structures within the joint.

RA commonly affects the small joints of the hands, wrists, and feet, but it can also involve larger joints such as the elbows, shoulders, hips, and knees. The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis vary from person to person, but they often include joint pain, morning stiffness that lasts for hours, fatigue, low-grade fever, and general malaise. Over time, the inflammation and damage caused by RA can lead to joint deformities, loss of function, and disability if left untreated.

How can Chiropractic help treat Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Chiropractic services can play a supportive role in managing the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). While chiropractors cannot cure RA, they can help alleviate pain and improve joint function. Through gentle adjustments, chiropractors can help restore improved function and mobility to affected joints, reducing stiffness and increasing range of motion.

Chiropractic care also focuses on reducing inflammation and improving overall spinal health, which can have a positive impact on the body's immune response and inflammatory processes. Additionally, chiropractors may recommend therapeutic exercises, stretches, and lifestyle modifications to support RA management and enhance overall well-being. While individual results may vary, chiropractic services offer a holistic approach that complements traditional medical treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis.

What causes Rheumatoid Arthritis?

The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is unknown, but it is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. In individuals with a genetic predisposition, certain triggers such as infections or hormonal changes can activate the immune system inappropriately.

In RA, the immune system mistakenly attacks the healthy tissues in the body, particularly the synovium (the lining of the joints). This immune response leads to chronic inflammation in the joints, causing pain, swelling, and stiffness. Over time, the persistent inflammation can result in damage to the cartilage, bone, and other structures within the joint.

While the specific triggers that set off the immune response in RA are not fully understood, researchers believe that a combination of genetic susceptibility and environmental factors play a role. Factors such as smoking, exposure to certain infections, and hormonal changes may contribute to the development of RA.

What treatments might help Rheumatoid Arthritis?

The treatment for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) aims to improve symptoms, reduce inflammation, and slow down the progression of the disease. Here are some ways the treatment can help:

  • Medications: Various medications are used to manage RA. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may help reduce pain and inflammation. Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) can slow down the progression of RA and preserve joint function. Biologic response modifiers target specific components of the immune system to reduce inflammation.
  • Physical and Occupational Therapy: Engaging in physical therapy and occupational therapy can help improve joint mobility, strengthen muscles around the joints, and enhance overall physical function. Therapists can provide exercises, techniques, and assistive devices to support daily activities.
  • Lifestyle Changes: Making certain lifestyle modifications can also contribute to managing RA. Regular exercise, such as low-impact activities like walking or swimming, can help maintain joint flexibility and strengthen muscles. Resting when needed and finding good sleep habits can help reduce fatigue and support overall well-being.
  • Heat or Cold Therapy: Applying heat or cold to affected joints may help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. Heat can help relax muscles and promote blood circulation, while cold therapy can numb the area and reduce swelling.
  • Surgery: In severe cases where joint damage is significant and affects daily life, surgical interventions like joint replacement surgery may be considered. This can help restore mobility and relieve pain.

Signs of Rheumatoid Arthritis:

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can cause a variety of symptoms that can vary from person to person. Here are some common signs to watch out for:

  • Joint pain and stiffness: RA typically affects the small joints, such as those in the hands, wrists, and feet. You may experience pain, tenderness, and swelling in these joints. Morning stiffness that lasts for more than an hour is also a common symptom.
  • Fatigue: Many individuals with RA experience excessive tiredness and lack of energy, even after getting enough rest. This fatigue can interfere with daily activities.
  • Joint redness and warmth: Inflammation caused by RA can result in the affected joints appearing red, swollen, and feeling warm to the touch.
  • Joint deformities: Over time, RA can lead to joint damage and deformities. This may cause joints to become misaligned, leading to changes in appearance and limited mobility.
  • Limited range of motion: As RA progresses, you may notice difficulty moving your joints fully. This can make it challenging to perform everyday tasks and activities.
  • Systemic symptoms: In addition to joint-related symptoms, RA can also involve other parts of the body. You may experience fever, weight loss, dry eyes, dry mouth, or a general feeling of being unwell.

Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis:

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can cause various symptoms that can vary from person to person. Here are some common signs to watch out for:

  • Joint pain and stiffness: RA typically affects the small joints, such as those in the hands, wrists, and feet. You may experience pain, tenderness, and swelling in these joints. Morning stiffness that lasts for more than an hour is also a common symptom.
  • Fatigue: Many individuals with RA experience excessive tiredness and lack of energy, even after getting enough rest. This fatigue can interfere with daily activities.
  • Joint redness and warmth: Inflammation caused by RA can result in the affected joints appearing red, swollen, and feeling warm to the touch.
  • Joint deformities: Over time, RA can lead to joint damage and deformities. This may cause joints to become misaligned, leading to changes in appearance and limited mobility.
  • Limited range of motion: As RA progresses, you may notice difficulty moving your joints fully. This can make it challenging to perform everyday tasks and activities.
  • Systemic symptoms: In addition to joint-related symptoms, RA can also involve other parts of the body. You may experience fever, weight loss, dry eyes, dry mouth, or a general feeling of being unwell.
Naturopathy
Naturopathy
Anchor Health and Performance Icon
is this treatment right for you?

When is the right time to see a Chiropractor for Rheumatoid Arthritis?

The right time to see a chiropractor for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) may vary depending on individual circumstances. It is generally recommended to consult with your primary healthcare provider, such as a rheumatologist, first to receive a formal diagnosis and establish a treatment plan.

Once you have a diagnosis of RA, your healthcare provider may refer you to other specialists like chiropractors as part of a multidisciplinary approach to manage your condition. These professionals can complement traditional medical care by providing additional therapies and support.

Meet our Lead Chiropractor

Dr. Brett Herlehy

Dr. Brett Herlehy

Chiropractor

Doctor of Chiropractic from New York Chiropractic College

Dr. Brett enjoys working with active individuals looking to reach the next level and also anyone who is trying to incorporate more physical activity into their daily lives.

Anchor Health and Performance Icon

The Anchor Difference

PATIENT-DRIVEN CARE

ONE-ON-ONE TREATMENTS

EVIDENCE-INFORMED PLANS

are you ready to move and feel better?

book your appointment today

Let's address your Rheumatoid Arthritis concerns together!

Physiotherapist Brittany Pereira working with client at Anchor Health and Performance Clinic Mississauga
Interior Lobby at Anchor Health and Performance Clinic in Mississauga