Before we just into our discussion about rheumatoid arthritis, let’s begin with a quick anatomy refresher. We use our wrists and hands to lift, pull, grasp, throw, grip- the list goes on and on. Your wrists are constantly being used. The normal wrist consists of eight carpal bones. The wrist has a unique title as a “complex” bone. Due to its complexity, it is constantly gliding with the aid of cartilage and over time and with overuse, any bone in the body will develop some kind of arthritis. Arthritis is a name for any of numerous conditions characterized by inflammation of the joints. The inflammation is painful in itself and it also makes movement difficult and painful. Chronic inflammation can eventually erode the joints tissues (bone and cartilage).
There are more than 200 conditions that affect joints. Arthritic conditions are closely associated with immunity. The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis. Other common rheumatic conditions related to arthritis include gout, fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Of those 200 conditions, from 2013 to 2015, an estimated 54.4 million US adults (22.7%) annually had been told by a doctor that they had some form of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus or fibromyalgia.
Rheumatoid arthritis in brief detail is an autoimmune disease, where the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. In other words- the bodies defense mechanism normally is to protect the body from infection. Instead with RA it damages normal cartilage and ligaments. Having a smooth joint surface allows for your bones to rub against each other healthily. Ultimately, overtime everyone develops some version of joint damage, leaving you with arthritic conditions.
So back to the original question at hand- why does RA affect your wrists? The condition frequently starts in smaller joints like your fingers and wrists. (side note- the term “symmetrical” means it affects the same joint on both sides of the body. So basically, it goes ‘hand in hand!’- pun intended). Other symptoms associated with RA are: shoulder pain, difficulty breathing, chest pain, bumpy skin, dry eyes, dry mouth, finger pain and redness, weakness in the knees, uneven stance in your ankles and even toe trouble. Of course, one single symptom does not mean you have RA, but it is very important to get your yearly checkup with your Primary care physician.
Those who have RA, should take their diet very important because it can really help with the side effects that you experience with RA. For example, fatty fish like Salmon, tuna, sardines, herring and other cold-water fish are rich in omega -3 fatty acids and these may help control inflammation. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and beans are also helpful. Cooking with olive oil or coconut oil is much better than cooking with canola.
If you have some of these symptoms, that does not mean you have RA. It is important to consult with your primary care physician or a rheumatologist to get further testing. If you would like to find out if you have RA, here are a few referrals in the KC metro area:
By: Makenzie Mullin