Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an auto immune disorder that primarily affects the synovial tissues surrounding the joints. This condition causes painful swelling and inflammation that may lead to bone erosion and joint deformity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 1.5 million adults in the United States have this condition. It is estimated that women fall victims to RA about three times more often than men do. This condition is very common in women in the age group of 30-60 years; in men it often occurs somewhat later in life.
The common symptoms associated with this disease include chronic joint pain, joint swelling and inflammation, fatigue, joint stiffness and weight loss. The intensity of pain and severity of symptoms may vary from one person to another. In addition, RA increases the potential risk of developing other conditions such as osteoporosis, carpel tunnel syndrome, stroke and cardiac problems.
A new study reports that people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis may be more likely to achieve remission if they maintain a healthy body weight. It was found that overweight or heaviest people have 65% reduced odds of disease remission. On the other hand, being underweight also lowered the odds of disease remission.
The findings of the study were published in the American College of Rheumatology annual meeting in Boston. Researchers claim that medications for this disease were not as effective on the overweight population.
As part of the study, researchers found a direct link between weight and rheumatoid arthritis remission. They analyzed nearly 1,000 patients (for 3 years) who developed the disease at an early age. The key findings of the study are mentioned below –
- When compared to normal weight people, it was found that underweight people had 45% lower odds of achieving remission.
- Obese people (with a BMI of 35-40) or morbidly obese (BMI over 40) had 50-60% lower odds of achieving remission.
- It was found that certain groups of patients (that include non-smokers as well as those who start treatment with a drug known as methotrexate) were more likely to achieve a sustained remission.
- Those people who quickly respond to treatment often enter a sustained remission.
The findings of the study signify that obesity plays a major role in whether or not someone achieved remission. Inflammation associated with this condition is probably considered one of the major reasons for the same.
It is important for people to follow a healthy lifestyle to reduce the symptoms of obesity as this will indirectly help in pain reduction in rheumatoid arthritis patients. Excess weight can put more stress on your joints creating more pain. Therefore, following a systematic approach integrated with healthy diet and regular exercise regime helps in better pain management and weight control. Regular physical activity can help prevent some of the joint swelling that comes with RA. Reliable healthcare centers offer different approaches for effective rheumatoid arthritis pain management such as physical therapy, TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation), massage, anti-inflammatory diet, exercise, pain medications and weight loss programs.