Rheumatoid arthritis, which is common in women, is a disease that rapidly destroys bones if left untreated. In the past, people feared that they would eventually become bedridden, but today, thanks to advances in treatment, the condition can be stabilized in a short period of time. Introduces the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and how to care for it in daily life.
Table of contents
- Supervisor Profile: Tsutomu Takeuchi
- Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by abnormal immunity! Early treatment is key
- Check it out now! Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptom Checklist
- With early drug treatment, 80% are in “remission”, which is close to being cured!
- Daily life care for coping well with illness
- Let’s make rheumatism gymnastics a daily habit!
Supervisor Profile: Tsutomu Takeuchi
Tsutomu Takeuchi Professor, Department of Rheumatology and Collagen Diseases, Keio University School of Medicine / President of the Japan Rheumatology Society. In 1980, graduated from Keio University School of Medicine. After working as an assistant in the internal medicine department at the same university hospital, studying at the Dana-Farber Institute at Harvard University in the United States, and as a professor at the Department of Rheumatology and Collagen Diseases at the Saitama Medical University General Medical Center, he assumed his current position in 2009. His publications include “The Latest Medical Rheumatism for Patients” (published by Takahashi Shoten).
Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by abnormal immunity! Early treatment is key
Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the autoimmune diseases in which abnormalities occur in the immune system. Immune cells, which are supposed to protect oneself, start attacking the synovial membrane in the joints as an enemy, resulting in joint inflammation, pain and swelling. come out. If you go further, you may even destroy your bones.
As a result, rheumatoid arthritis used to have a strong image of being unable to walk as joints become deformed and immobile, but in recent years there have been significant advances in treatment methods, and it is rare for patients to stop the progression of the disease. lost.
“Rheumatoid arthritis treatment has changed dramatically over the past ten years, with the emergence of highly effective drugs one after another. It has become possible not only to treat symptoms such as pain, but also to slow the progression of the disease itself. If it is detected early and treated appropriately, the condition may subside in about three months,” says Tsutomu Takeuchi, professor at the Department of Rheumatology and Collagen Diseases, Keio University School of Medicine, and president of the Japan Rheumatoid Society. I talk.
Check it out now! Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptom Checklist
Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that is more common in women, and the peak onset is in the 40s and 50s, but it is not uncommon to develop after the 60s. The number of patients is increasing as the population ages. Currently, it is said that there are 700,000 to 800,000 (*) patients.
*Source: Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare: Rheumatism and Allergy Committee Report (August 2011)
Early symptoms include joint stiffness, swelling, and pain. It is characterized by “morning stiffness,” especially when waking up in the morning, where it is difficult to hold hands or move limbs.
First of all, let’s check if there are any corresponding symptoms.
Do you have any of these symptoms?
- Stiff joints lasting more than 15 minutes when you wake up in the morning, and these symptoms persist for more than a week.
- Three or more joints throughout the body are swollen, and this symptom lasts for more than a week.
- Swelling of the 2nd and 3rd finger joints, wrists, ankles, and groin joints lasting more than a week.
- Left and right joints swell, and this symptom continues for more than a week.
If you have any of the above symptoms, seek medical attention immediately. Early detection and early treatment are important for rheumatoid arthritis.
“Since the onset of rheumatoid arthritis can be detected by a blood test, it is recommended that those who have symptoms that they are familiar with should undergo a test at a nearby medical institution. That’s fine.”
With early drug treatment, 80% are in “remission”, which is close to being cured!
Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis is always the first move.
“Rheumatoid arthritis tends to destroy the joints in the early stages, so the first step is crucial. Antirheumatic drugs strongly suppress joint inflammation and prevent bone destruction,” says Takeuchi.
There are many types of antirheumatic drugs, but the main ones are immunosuppressants and biologics.
Immunosuppressants are drugs that suppress the function of the immune system. Biologics are trump cards that completely suppress the actions of substances that cause immune disorders (inflammatory cytokines) and immune cells. It comes into play when immunosuppressants do not work.
“The goal of treatment for rheumatoid arthritis is to bring the disease into remission, where the symptoms disappear and the disease settles down. We aim to achieve this within one year of starting treatment. About 80% of the patients went into remission,” says Takeuchi.
The key to increasing the therapeutic effect is how well you get along with the drug.
“The effectiveness of the drug is evaluated every three months, and if it does not work, we switch to another drug.
If you have been on treatment for a long time and are not getting better, you should see a specialist who is familiar with drug therapy.
Daily life care for coping well with illness
In order to relieve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, daily care is also important.
Physical stress, such as injury and fatigue, and mental stress, such as depression and anxiety, also activate the function of the immune system and lead to aggravation of the disease.
“There are times when things are good and times when they are bad. It is important not to worry too much and to deal with illness at your own pace,” says Takeuchi.
Also, when it gets cold, stiffness and pain in the joints increase, so let’s warm up your body in the bath. Exercises that move joints and strengthen muscles are also recommended.
Keep these things in mind in your daily life!
Frustrated, Kuyokuyo is a great enemy. Emotional stress aggravates the disease. Let’s take it easy, relax, and make time to laugh and chat.
Take a warm bath before going to bed
Warming up your body improves blood circulation and relieves stiffness and pain in your joints. Soak in lukewarm water for a long time before going to bed at night to warm you from the core. Be careful not to let the water cool down.
Let’s make rheumatism gymnastics a daily habit!
Mr. Takeuchi taught me about rheumatism exercises, which says, “Strengthening muscles and tendons reduces the burden on joints and helps maintain joint function.” The recommended number of exercises is 3 sets of 5 to 10 times each day.
Press with both hands to increase muscle strength
Put your left and right palms together and press in the direction of the arrow. It can be done without moving the joints, so it is OK even when inflammation is strong.
Easy muscle training with a towel
Roll up a bath towel, place it between your elbow joints, and gently pull your arms inwards to squeeze it. It is effective not only to use the elbows, but also to hold it on the back of the knees while bending and stretching.
strengthen thigh muscles
Sit on a chair, straighten your knees, slowly raise one leg, hold it for 5 to 10 seconds, and then slowly lower it down. If the pain persists the next day, you’re overdoing it and should slow down.