When people think of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), they often think of stiff, painful joints. This autoimmune condition happens when the body mistakes its own joint tissues as foreign ones and attacks them producing swelling of the joints, which leads to stiffness and pain, and when it goes out of control or lasts for long periods of time, in the so called “flares”, bone structures can be permanently deformed. Other complications can also be noticed in other parts of the body such as eyes, lungs, heart, blood vessels and skin. It is a chronic inflammatory disorder that can affect more than just the joints.
There isn’t a cure found yet for RA, medication helps control it, but it has to be taken for life and it comes with unpleasant side effects. Most complications of rheumatoid arthritis can be managed; however, patients need to pay attention to early symptoms, to help the diagnosis and early treatment.
Stem cells can help prevent inflammation and decrease flares’ intensity and frequency. Once the complications related to RA emerge, stem cells can sometimes reverse them as long as the damage isn’t permanent.
Even though stem cell treatment and its research have been involved in debates for years, scientists and doctors have proved their benefits and are excited about the results on inflammatory conditions.
Some complications of RA are:
Patients might develop tissue lumps or “nodules”. They can appear on the skin, particularly on heels, fingers, elbows, knees or forearms. They grow gradually and unexpectedly and can also be detected in the lungs.
The inflammation in the lungs can form characteristic nodules that are usually harmless, but that can cause problems such as coughing blood, recurrent infections and collapsed air spaces which can lead to shortness of breath and chest pain, making even breathing painful.
Patients with RA may also suffer from alterations in the blood cell count due to the chronic inflammation, from high Platelet levels or “Thrombocytosis”, to different types of Anemia. Too many platelets in the body can cause different complications from clots in the vessels to heart attacks and strokes. Anemia, on the other hand, manifests itself with rapid heartbeats, shortness of breath, fatigue, headaches, dizziness, leg cramps and insomnia among other symptoms.
Patients with RA may experience eye pain caused by dryness and the swelling of the Episclera, a membrane that covers the white area of the eyes. When the immune system attacks the glands that oversee tear production, it can often lead to Sjogren’s Syndrome making the eyes feel dry and gritty and, if not treated properly, can lead to recurrent infections and scarring.
Living with RA is living with severe pain every day. Suffering from a chronic disease adds too much stress to the patient’s life. All the stress and severe pain make patients more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression.
It is not an easy road, but if you are suffering from RA you must know that there is hope, there are solutions that can help you deal with this unpredictable disease!
If you are living with RA and you are not comfortable with the results of your current treatment, it is very important to share it with your physician so both can explore different alternatives together, in order to make you feel better and better.
Fortunately, there are solutions like stem cells therapies that help treat or control problems related to RA. The first thing you need to do when dealing with a chronic condition, is to get informed and ask your physician if you are eligible for stem cell therapy.
Improving quality of life is possible.