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What Causes Fatigue In Rheumatoid Arthritis

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What Are The Features Of Fatigue

Rheumatoid Arthritis Fatigue. How It Really Is #Rheumatoid #Arthritis

Common features of fatigue include:

  • your body and limbs feeling heavy and difficult to move
  • flu-like feelings of exhaustion
  • the feeling that your energy has drained away.

Many people also report mental fatigue, when they cant think straight and lose their concentration or motivation. Some people refer to this as brain fog. Some people report an emotional fatigue which makes them irritable, down or tearful. This fatigue isnt the same as chronic fatigue syndrome, its a symptom related to RA , and you can learn to manage it successfully.

Feelings of fatigue may occur at any time of the day. You may experience it when you wake up, so you dont feel refreshed from sleep, or it may come on when youre physically busy or concentrating a lot. For many people, fatigue seems to have no clear cause and happens without warning. It may last anywhere from an hour to the whole day and could continue over several days or weeks at a time, although this is less common.

Fatigue can have a major impact on your life. It can force you to stop what youre doing and rest, or make you change your plans. This can have a big effect on your ability to run your life or do the things that we all take for granted.

Beating Chronic Fatigue By Improving Lifestyle

The effects of Chronic Fatigue cant be managed overnight. It requires small daily habit changes and lifestyle shifts to incorporate more activity, better rest, and improved dietary habit. By assessing and adjusting your daily activities, you can help determine what is contributing to your chronic fatigue, and make the appropriate lifestyle changes. Successfully managing these factors that contribute to Chronic Fatigue associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis, a patient can drastically improve energy levels and overall wellbeing.

If youre concerned about how chronic fatigue is affecting your life, talk to your rheumatologist about the options to beat fatigue and improve your wellbeing.

Can Vitamin B12 Help Arthritis

Vitamin B complex is a type of non-antioxidant vitamin. We dont fully understand how this type of vitamin may treat arthritis-related conditions, but evidence from trials suggests that vitamins B3, B9 and B12 might be of some benefit for treating osteoarthritis, particularly in improving joint mobility and hand grip.

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What Is The Prognosis For People Who Have Rheumatoid Arthritis

Although there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, there are many effective methods for decreasing the pain and inflammation and slowing down the disease process. Early diagnosis and effective treatment are very important.

Extensive research is being done to learn the cause of rheumatoid arthritis and the best methods of treatment.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/17/2017.


How Rheumatoid Arthritis And Other Chronic Diseases Cause Fatigue Symptoms

Why Does Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Cause Fatigue?

There are many reasons why chronic disease can cause fatigue. Fatigue is extremely common and is associated with significant and oftentimes disabling consequences in patients with chronic diseases, explains Vinicius Domingues, MD, a medical adviser to CreakyJoints and a rheumatologist based in Daytona Beach, Florida. Fatigue can be related to the underlying disease, especially when its an inflammatory disease such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis , or it might be a consequence to certain medications. Often, patients are anemic , which can also increase their fatigue, he says.

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What Causes Rheumatoid Arthritis

The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown. However, it is believed to be caused by a combination the following factors:

  • Genetics
  • The environment
  • Hormones

Normally, the immune system protects the body from disease. In people who have rheumatoid arthritis, somethingpossibly infections, cigarette smoking, and physical or emotional stress, among other causestriggers the immune system to attack the joints .

Gender, heredity, and genes largely determine a person’s risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. For example, women are about three times more likely than men to develop rheumatoid arthritis.

Check For Thyroid Issues

RA is, as you know, an autoimmune disease. People with an autoimmune condition are more likely to develop another autoimmune condition. One of those conditions that often pairs up with RA is thyroid disease, says Dr. Cappelli. Low thyroid activity, hypothyroidism, causesyou guessed itfatigue. Its reasonable to ask your doctor for a blood test to check for hypothyroidism, she says, even if you dont have some of the other symptoms of the condition, including weight gain, constipation, dizziness, muscle cramps, a hoarse voice, and dry, scaly skin.

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What Causes Rheumatoid Arthritis Fatigue

Rheumatoid Arthritis fatigue is a weariness that rest cannot cure. It is tiredness without the benefit of the pleasure of activity. Over 90% of RA patients report fatigue as a symptom. It is counted second only to pain as the greatest difficulty of living with RA.

Unlike normal fatigue, pathological fatigue does not improve with rest. This kind of fatigue is seen in most acute and chronic inflammatory diseases, including arthritis

Where does this weariness come from? What causes us to feel precisely like Superman with Kryptonite pushed in his face? Does anybody know?

How Is Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosed

Rheumatoid Arthritis & its symptom fatigue

The diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is based on a combination of factors, including:

  • Morning stiffness that lasts at least one hour and has been present for at least six weeks
  • Swelling of three or more joints for at least six weeks
  • Swelling of the wrist, hand, or finger joints for at least six weeks
  • Swelling of the same joints on both sides of the body
  • Changes in hand x-rays that are hallmarks of rheumatoid arthritis
  • Rheumatoid nodules of the skin
  • Blood test that is positive for rheumatoid factor* and/or anti-citrullinated peptide/protein antibodies

* The rheumatoid factor may be present in people who do not have rheumatoid arthritis. Other diseases can also cause the rheumatoid factor to be produced in the blood. A test called CCP antibody can sometimes help to determine whether the rheumatoid factor antibody is due to rheumatoid arthritis or some other disease. This is why the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is based on a combination of several factors and NOT just the presence of the rheumatoid factor in the blood.

It is also important to note that not all of these features are present in people with early rheumatoid arthritis, and these problems may be present in some people with other rheumatic conditions.

In some cases, it may be necessary to monitor the condition over time before a definitive diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis can be made.

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Reason : Its A Byproduct Of Ra

Eighty percent of RA patients experience significant fatigue. The reason: RA causes the body to make inflammatory proteins, called Tumor Necrosis Factor, or TNF, and weve known for a very long time that they cause fatigue,, says Jonathan M. Greer, M.D., a rheumatology and internal medicine specialist in Palm Beach County, FL, and assistant clinical professor of medicine at both Nova Southeastern University and the University of Miami. But that doesnt mean all is lost. A Rheumatology study found that patients receiving anti-TNF therapies experienced clinically important improvements in RA-related fatigue.

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How Does Fatigue Affect Quality Of Life

Fatigue can be one of the most debilitating symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Numerous studies have found RA fatigue is associated with poor sleep, increased pain, depressive symptoms, and high levels of disability.

One study from King’s College London, United Kingdom, finds fatigue is closely associated with pain, which was most severe in people with additional conditions, such as fibromyalgia, and RA related complications, such as those affecting the heart or lungs.

In addition to feeling tired all the time, fatigue affects the quality of life for people with RA by causing:

  • Coping Troubles. RA patients who experience high levels of fatigue have a harder time coping with pain, which ultimately makes pain worse.
  • Concentration Problems. High levels of fatigue can affect critical thinking and decision making. Fatigue makes it hard to grasp and understand ideas, find focus, and break down problems.
  • Feeling Helpless. Feeling physically and emotionally exhausted can make a person feel like they have little control over their lives. Fatigue also makes to harder to find the motivation to take control.
  • Irritability. Being physically and emotionally tired affects mood and can make a person feel grouchy and irritable.

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What Is A Flare

Hopefully, you have achieved a fairly steady level of your RA, but you may still experience flares. This is a time when your RA temporarily becomes more active and can include increased disease activity, swelling and pain in your joints, fatigue, low-grade fevers, even loss of appetite. Flares may be intense, essentially stopping your life, or they can be smaller and only last a few days. How bad they are depends on how controlled your RA is, as well as possible triggers.

How Is An Ra Flare Defined

What Causes Rheumatoid Arthritis Fatigue?

Although there is currently no set definition of what constitutes an RA flare, there is agreement that a flare is associated with a worsening of key RA symptoms and an impact on certain areas of daily functioning. Your doctor may use clinical tools including standard RA laboratory tests, counts of swollen and tender joints, and a global assessment of your condition to determine whether you are experiencing a flare.1

These simple methods may work:

  • Use canes, special jar openers, and padded handles.
  • Make it easier to lift, carry, or bend. Use your bigger joints instead of your smaller ones. Use your whole arm to lift things, not just your hands and wrists.
  • Wear safety gear like knee and elbow pads, or wrist guards when you play sports or do outdoor activities.
  • Put your joints through their full range of motion. Use slow, gentle movements.
  • Strengthen the muscles and ligaments around your joints. If you donât have a physical therapist, ask your doctor to help you find one.
  • Try to avoid extra weight, which puts pressure on your joints. Your doctor can tell you what your goal should be.

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How Can We Reduce Fatigue

Like so many things in life, its better not to go it alone. There are things that can be done by your doctor, friends, family, and even your workplace, that can help you in your day to day life.

Your doctor can:

  • Suggest lifestyle changes that may improve your energy.

You can:

  • Make a to-do list and cross off the least important things.
  • Do some exercise exercise supports the joints.
  • Eat healthy. Get your protein for strong muscles and carbs for energy.
  • Check out CBT and learn how to reframe your mindset.
  • Talk to your boss at work perhaps you could work from home or change your hours.
  • Try to ask for help when you need it people cant always see or know when you need help.

The Causes Of Rheumatoid Arthritis Fatigue

You wake up exhausted, drag yourself through the day, and keel over into bed with nothing left. This is rheumatoid arthritis fatigue. Many of us have been known to say that the pain is bad, but the fatigue is almost worse.

We are not talking about just being tired. RA fatigue is pervasive. To make others understand what it feels like, you can liken it to the fatigue that people feel when they have the flu. An editorial in the journal Rheumatologydefined fatigue as physical and/or mental exhaustion that leads to a marked impairment in normal activities, whether mental, physical, domestic, social, or occupational. It is not improved substantially by bed rest and may be worsened by normal levels of physical or mental activity.

Living with a chronic illness is exhausting, and chronic pain certainly contributes to feeling like a wrung- out dishcloth. However, there is also a biological reason for RA fatigue.

Understanding RA fatigue

At the 2015 annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism it was reported that not only is there a biological basis for the fatigue experienced by people with rheumatic conditions, such as RA, but that this fatigue is also gene regulated. A Norwegian researcher presented the results of a study, stating his belief that interleukin 1 beta is the fatigue cytokine.

What you can do about RA fatigue

But this isnt the case for everyone. In fact, levels of fatigue are not always associated with the level of inflammation.

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What Causes Gout To Flare Up

Gout is a complex form of arthritis that can flare up suddenly and severely. It occurs as a result of having high levels of uric acid, which makes it easier for urate crystals to form. These sharp crystals can deposit in your joints, causing inflammation, swelling and pain.

âThe most common trigger of gout is eating purine-rich foods, since high levels of purines can increase the amount of uric acid in your bloodstream,â explains Dr. Alam.

Gout-sufferers can help avoid flare-ups by avoiding foods rich in purines, including:

  • Red meat
  • Certain types of seafood, including tuna, scallops and trout
  • Alcohol, particularly beer
  • Fruit juices and other beverages that contain fructose

âSimilar to rheumatoid arthritis, a flare-up of gout can be alleviated by using a cold compress on the affected joint, which helps reduce the inflammation thatâs causing your pain, swelling and stiffness,â says Dr. Alam.

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What Causes Fatigue

Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients Suffering Fatigue

Its important to understand various causes of fatigue, since its not always related to RA disease activity. Could there be one or more reasons for your fatigue beyond your rheumatoid arthritis?

Some causes of fatigue may be:

  • inflammation/swollen tender joints
  • sleep problems
  • low levels of Vitamin D

Its helpful to talk to your doctor about these things in order to pinpoint what changes you make that can have a positive impact on your quality of life. Be sure to review any medications you take and the time of day you take them. Most people with RA frequently take steroids in the morning to combat stiffness, but when taken later in the day they can cause sleeplessness. There are a host of other medications, such as pain, blood pressure, and muscle relaxants that can cause some people to be tired. Antidepressants and anti-inflammatories are less likely to cause fatigue, but for some, do.

Theres a vicious cycle of food, fatigue, lack of sleep, not doing enough, low mood, and stress, which forms a circular pattern. Your mindset and view of each of these aspects can have an impact on your fatigue.

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Is Sleep A Factor

Some studies report an apparent association between the number of sleep problems one has and the level of fatigue. However, other studies indicate that a relationship between sleep problems and fatigue isnt significant.

This means that a person with RA can get enough sleep, or even quality sleep, and still experience fatigue.

Whats known is that fatigue can impact prognosis and it also seems that lifestyle changes can help people better cope with and manage fatigue.

A study published in August stated that Fatigue is a key contributor to increased clinical care costs, primary care consultations, and employment loss. Despite this, our understanding of the prognostic of factors of poor fatigue outcomes is lacking and fatigue is poorly managed.

The available data appears to implicate generic factors such as pain, mental health, disability, and sleep as consistent predictors of fatigue outcome while the role of disease activity and inflammation seems less clear, the study authors wrote. However, the existing data are not without methodological limitations and there have been no specific studies primarily designed to investigate the inflammatory biomarkers of fatigue.

The researchers also found that broad factors such as disability, mood, and pain appear to amplify or drive fatigue in people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Fatigue also plays a role in a persons ability to keep working.

Another vicious cycle is that of exercise.

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Rheumatoid Arthritis Flare Treatment

If your symptoms are revving up while youre on RA meds, your doctor may add an injectable or oral steroid to the mix. These drugs help to curb the inflammation quickly, says Saika Sharmeen, M.D., assistant professor in the division of rheumatology at Stony Brook Medicine in Stony Brook, NY. Beyond that, you might consider one of these home remedies or supplements to help ease your symptoms:

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How Ra Fatigue Feels

RA fatigue can be “multidimensional, overwhelming, and unpredictable, with physical, cognitive, and emotional components,” according to a 2016 report in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders.

RA fatigue can feel like whole-body all-over exhaustion. Some people with the condition might describe it as deep tiredness or the slowing down of the body as if you are recovering from an illness like the flu.

Try To Keep A Reserve Of Meals And Supplies That You Can Use On Days When You Need Extra Rest

Why Does Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Cause Fatigue?

, 38, is a mom of three, and she says juggling the demands of motherhood and her rheumatoid arthritis fatigue can be tough. Shes found that meal prepping and reserving special toys that keep her kids entertained for longer give her more time to rest on particularly tiring things.

When Im feeling up to it, I cook big-batch meals and put some in the freezer for days when I have less energy, she tells SELF. Mariah also keeps a cupboard full of quiet activities and crafts that her kids can work on if she needs extra rest time. We also use a system of toy rotation, where about one-third of our toys are out in the playroom and two-thirds are off-limits in a closet, she says. So on days when I am in pain or have less energy, I can bring out new toys that will keep the kids attention longer because they havent been played with for a while.

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