Classified as an autoimmune disorder, Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a lifelong inflammatory condition that gives affected individuals excruciating pain to their bodily joints. These joints get swollen and inflamed making it uncomfortable to move or even perform activities of daily living.
If you are one busy individual, this disorder may be more of a hassle as it can also damage the skin, eyes, heart, lungs and even the blood vessels in your body. As RA reaches this point, joint degeneration, as well as deformities, occurs. Heart attacks have been reported when the disease slowly spreads to the other parts of the body.
The action of this disorder is that your body attacks its own cells thinking that these are foreign bodies. There is still no known cure for Rheumatoid arthritis and the medications are for helping improve the symptoms. New and improved treatment options are available to ease the burden of having RA.
Patients living with this disorder have different cases so medications depend on the severity of the symptoms. Physicians need to know all information so as to have a correct treatment plan. That’s why health apps have been created to further assist you in tracking symptoms, as well as sending medication reminders to make you adhere strictly to any therapy or treatment option.
The Positive Impact of Using Apps to Manage RA
CareClinic is one of the top health apps in iOS and Android that make any condition bearable. If you have Rheumatoid arthritis, this app can help increase medication adherence rates on a greater scale. CareClinic supports a patient in various ways. This rheumatoid arthritis app sends notifications to the patient when it is time to take medicine. Medication reminders specify the exact dosage and timing of particular medications as prescribed by the physician.
There is a cool feature in this app that makes you upload your medication directly to the journal. You just need to scan the barcode of the medicine packaging by using the app’s barcode scanner. Once done, the app will instantly generate reminders to make sure you take the medication on time. The reminder comes in the form of an alarm or pop-up-notification. It is easy to notice this alarm because your mobile phone may either vibrate or make a distinct sound. This notification then goes into a simplified to-do list making sure you will never miss a single dose.
Another great feature of CareClinic is its digital health diary in which you may use to monitor RA symptoms and other health measurements related to the condition. This includes your weight, amount of C-reactive protein in the blood, as well as record laboratory test results in the app. Once all of the data are gathered every day, you will be able to monitor your RA and work hand-in-hand with your doctor in checking if the specific treatment plan is effective or not. Your doctor will evaluate your condition and find out if adjustments are needed. With regards to the safety of your data, CareClinic is protected by privacy laws so there is no need to worry.
If this app reminds you when to take your medications, it also sends notifications about your next doctor’s appointment or next visit to the therapist. CareClinic is so easy to use as the app is tailored to meet your condition’s needs. Aside from that, this Rheumatoid arthritis note app is constantly updated and developed after receiving user feedbacks. Anyone can absolutely use the app, be it kids or adults.
To maximize the app’s features, it is best to understand fully what your condition is all about.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: how painful can it be?
Rheumatoid arthritis can easily be distinguished from osteoarthritis, in which the damage is due to wear and tear. RA targets the lining of the joints in the body system which causes inflammation and stiffening. It is very painful and may even lead to joint deformities and bone erosion. Since it is an autoimmune disease, the body mistakenly attacks its own cells – particularly on the lining of the joints.
The inflammation causes the thickening of the synovium, a tissue found inside the joints and produces lubrication. Synovium is the one responsible for allowing smooth movement along the joints. If this is swollen, joints get painful and hard to move. One thing to note is that if the left knee is affected, the right knee is bound to feel the same thing.
Since RA is the most common form of an autoimmune type of arthritis, approximately one percent of the world population is affected by it. It is very devastating to the body if not treated properly. It may affect all age groups but more than half of all new cases happen to be in the 40-70 age range. RA is also common among women.
This only means that as the population of those having RA ages, there will be a higher incidence of these patients developing heart disease and other complications. Long-term disease management will also rise. Aside from that, as RA cases increase in the world, a lot of countries will have fewer rheumatologists because one-third of those practicing at present will be retiring in 5 to 10 years.
Who is at higher risk of RA?
Rheumatoid arthritis has no clear evidence as to how it came to be. However, there are risk factors identified with this autoimmune disease such as:
- Diet with mostly red meat
- Cigarette smoking
- High coffee intake
- Overweight or obesity
- Asbestos and silica exposure
- Family history (genetics)
- Previous infection
- Gut bacteria
There are also medical professionals who believe that RA is caused primarily by hormones such as estrogen. Estrogen is found in women that’s why there is a higher risk for them in acquiring this disease. Aside from that, cold weather only makes the condition worse.
What are the hallmark signs and symptoms of this illness?
Arthritis, in general, is characterized by joint pains. In Rheumatoid arthritis, there are specific signs and symptoms that are commonly experienced by patients.
- Morning stiffness ( this usually lasts for more than 30 minutes)
- Inflammation and/or pain in the joints on both sides of the entire body
- Simultaneous pain in three or more bodily joints
- Loss of motion on stiff and/or painful joints
- High level of fatigue
In some people, they also feel the inflammation in their eyes, as well as other body parts such as lungs, heart membranes, and blood vessels. Rheumatoid nodules also from below the elbows, hands, and feet.
Since RA cases are quite different, symptoms occur in different periods. In case you already experience two or more symptoms, be sure to see a specialist (a rheumatologist to be exact) right away. He or she is an expert when it comes to diagnosis and treatment.
Rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis
RA usually starts slow and difficult to diagnose, as there is no single test to rule out the specific symptoms. In most cases, several examinations are done to make sure that you have this particular disorder. One of the things that your specialist will ask is a blood test. This is done to check some abnormal blood antibodies, as well as blood and baseline liver counts. The erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein (CRP) are also done to measure inflammation.
The rheumatoid factor, an antibody produced in response to your immune system, can also be checked thru blood examinations. An antibody test such as the anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide test is also done. Testing positive for anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide test and rheumatoid factor is said to have a greater chance of developing severe Rheumatoid arthritis.
X-ray imaging will also be asked for checking joint deterioration or damage. Bone scans are not commonly done but important when you have joint inflammation.
Arthrocentesis is done by extracting a considerable amount of fluid in the joints and have it analyzed thoroughly in the laboratory.
Medication management of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Just like any other disease, early treatment at around the first 6 weeks increases the chances that you will achieve remission or prevent further damage to the body joints and other organs. A well-thought-of treatment plan is essential and must include:
- Education of the condition
- Combination of medications
- Strengthening exercises
- Ample rest
- Vitamins and mineral supplements
- Balanced diet
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a life long disease and has no known cure. But due to several scientific advancements, medications can slow down the prognosis of RA and help out in managing the symptoms. These are classified as:
- disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
- steroids such as prednisone (Deltasone)
- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- COX-2 NSAIDs such as celecoxib (Celebrex)
- targeted synthetic molecule (tsDMARDs) such as tofacitinib (Xeljang)
- biologic response modifiers (biosimilars bsDMARDs)
- conventional synthetic disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (csDMARDs) such as azathioprine (AZA), methotrexate (Rheumatrex) and sulfasalazine (Azulfidine)
Biological agents such as infliximab, adalimumab, certolizumab, and etanercept are new forms of medication which are injected to the body. The action of these medications is to activate the immune system to attack the joints. Aside from these, specialists suggest physiotherapy and occupational therapy. These are done to improve muscle strength, fitness, and even flexibility. For severe cases of RA, surgery may be done.
Treatment plans differ from one patient to the other and medications may be taken alone or in conjunction with another therapeutic care plan. These options constantly change depending on the severity of your case.
How CareClinic make your RA life easier
Since it is a fact that Rheumatoid Arthritis has no cure, a patient can only undergo therapy or take medications to alleviate the symptoms. So as what specialists always say, taking medications at the right time with the correct dose is crucial to slow down RA’s progression. CareClinic is one of the top arthritis apps to use in support of this health journey.
The app sends medication reminders and notifications so that you will not miss a dose every day. Aside from that, you will never miss your therapy schedule as the app also sends reminders on the date and time of your next session.
CareClinic also features a built-in journal in which you can record and monitor your condition on a daily basis. This, in turn, becomes handy when you visit your specialist. All the data you input into the app can be used as a basis for your treatment plan. Your support system can also help you in adhering to CareClinic’s notification every single day. Living with RA is extremely tough and that’s exactly what the app is all about: making your life close to normal and easier day by day.