Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a long-term disease that leads to inflammation of the joints and surrounding tissues. It also can affect other organs.
The cause of RA is unknown. It is an autoimmune disease, which means the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. RA can occur at any age but is more common in middle age. Women get RA more often than men.
Infection, vaccination, genes, a refined food diet and hormone changes may be linked to the disease.
RA usually affects joints on both sides of the body equally. Wrists, fingers, knees, feet and ankles are the most commonly affected. The disease often begins slowly, usually with only minor joint pain, stiffness and fatigue.
Do I Have RA?
RA symptoms include morning stiffness that lasts more than one hour. Joints may feel warm, tender and stiff when not used for an hour. Joint pain is often felt on the same joint on both sides of the body.
Over time, joints may lose their range of motion and become deformed.
The usual medical advice given to people with RA is to exercise to decrease pain and to feel more energetic, although this hardly seems possible to someone suffering wfromRA.
It is true that inactivity decreases joint motion and flexibility. Inactivity also can lead to weak muscles and deformed joints. Regular exercise helps reverse joint stiffness, builds muscle and boosts overall fitness.
With regular exercise, you can be stronger with less fatigue despite this disease. Here is the key: RA patients need to do the right type of exercise, not simply more exercise.
Exercise should be discussed as a dosage, just like medicine. The right amount of exercise for someone with RA can be life changing. The wrong dose could easily leave the sufferer worse off.
For many people, the exercise that provides the most benefit is machine-based strength training done with extreme control....