Coping with Unusual Arthritis Symptoms

Chronic fatigue

Almost all Rheumatoid Arthritis patients report long-lasting fatigue, described as "severe weariness and dramatic or overwhelming exhaustion attributed to inflammation." Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, another debilitating disease that produces similar symptoms, is also common in patients with Psoriatic Arthritis.

Many factors contribute to fatigue, including lack of sleep, depression, stress, hormonal changes, anemia and loss of muscle mass.

Medical experts recommend several simple but important steps to minimize arthritis-related fatigue:

  1. Get a good night sleep. This may be a challenge, but sleep is a powerful healer. It reduces fatigue and helps alleviate joint inflammation.

  2. Remain active as you are able and schedule time for exercise. Exercise increases your energy levels and helps develop much-needed muscle mass.

  3. Incorporate breaks throughout your day and rest before you become overly tired.

  4. If you believe you are suffering from depression, discuss treatment options with your doctor.

  5. Rheumatoid Arthritis sufferers are twice as likely to experience depression and this can sap your energy.

Weight loss or loss of appetite

When you don't feel well, you may understandably lose interest in eating. However, not eating enough of the right foods when you have arthritis puts you at risk in two ways.

Rheumatoid Arthritis causes muscle loss, which leads to weakness and loss of normal functioning, a condition called Arthritis Cachexia. In general, arthritis patients tend to be less active, which further contributes to muscle loss and may result in unwanted weight gain that puts extra stress on your joints. Physical exercise is the most important countermeasure against muscle loss and weight gain.

Arthritis patients are also at risk for nutritional deficiencies, which may exacerbate inflammation and pain. If you've lost your appetite, or have unexplained weight loss, talk to a nutrition professional who can help you develop a sound eating plan.

Heart disease

Unfortunately, heart disease is one of the most frequent manifestations of Rheumatoid Arthritis outside of the joints. Heart disease is very serious. Left untreated, it may cause premature death. Fortunately, exercise provides significant protection against heart disease. Be sure to incorporate resistance training and aerobic activity in your overall exercise program.