16:48 PM

8 Rheumatoid Arthritis Triggers You're Not the Only One Experiencing

TheMighty.com reports on triggers that can increase the symptoms of a rheumatoid arthritis (RA) flare, and how to minimize your exposure, according to experts.

TheMighty.com spoke to Anne R. Bass, MD, rheumatologist at HSS, who explained while the weather is most commonly reported as a trigger by RA patients, medical professionals are unsure of why. “The truth is we don’t understand why humidity makes joints feel more stiff, even though almost all of our patients report this,” said Dr. Bass. This also appears to be the case for stress and fatigue. While stress can take its toll on the body, Dr. Bass commented, “There is a strong mind-body connection that can affect almost any medical condition, and also make people more sensitized to symptoms such as pain, but we don’t necessarily understand this on a biological level.”

While infections generally make people feel worse, RA symptoms may get surprisingly better. “Interestingly, during infections, patients’ joints often feel better, perhaps because the immune system is diverted away from the joints and to the site of infection,” cited Dr. Bass. Many patients associate certain foods to triggering their RA, however it is unlikely that certain foods increase symptoms. “Although lots of patients identify certain foods as triggers, this has not been proven scientifically and I generally recommend eating healthily rather than recommending against any particular food items,” advised Dr. Bass.

Additionally, certain types of exercise may provide relief from RA symptoms. Dr. Bass suggested exercising three times per week to keep the joints mobile.

Furthermore, Dr. Bass recommended keeping a journal of activities, the weather, stress levels, etc., if its unclear what might be causing the triggers. “If flares are happening frequently, then it’s helpful to document how often and for how long so you and your doctor can decide if a change in medication is indicated,” noted Dr. Bass. “You can make a simple notation in your phone calendar (you can ‘grade’ your arthritis on a scale from one to 10). Make note whether your symptoms get better when you’re on vacation. That can point to lifestyle issues that may be impacting your arthritis activity level,” she concluded.

Read the full text article at TheMighty.com.