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What is an Autoimmune Disease?

Any of a large group of diseases characterized by abnormal functioning of the immune system that causes your immune system to produce antibodies against your own tissues.



Why is Calcium & Vitamin D important for bones?

Calcium is an important nutrient for building bone and slowing the pace of bone loss.  With age, the intestines absorb less calcium from the diet, and the kidneys seem to be less efficient at conserving calcium. As a result, your body can steal calcium from bone for a variety of important metabolic functions.  In building bone, calcium has an indispensable assistant: vitamin D. This vitamin helps the body absorb calcium, and some researchers think that increasing vitamin D can help prevent osteoporosis.




Are joint deformities inevitable in Rheumatoid Arthritis?

No. Rheumatoid Arthritis varies greatly from person to person, so it's hard to identify typical stages of the disease. For a small percentage of patients, RA will persist for a year or two and then seem to become inactive. Others suffer periods of inflammation, called flares, followed by symptom-free periods, called remissions. In severe cases, the disease is active most of the time, persists for years, and causes serious joint damage and disability.  If rheumatoid arthritis is left untreated, it can cause permanent damage to bones and tissues and cause the bones to shift out of alignment.  Doctors now believe that joint damage due to RA begins early in the disease and that treatment should begin early as well thus preventing some of the joint damage before it takes place.


Why is prednisone harmful to take long-term?

The long term effects of taking prednisone can be quite significant.  Some of the more serious side effects include: elevated of pressure in the eye (glaucoma), cataracts, elevated blood pressure, swelling in the lower legs, weight gain, mood swings, insomnia, increased risk of infection, osteoporosis, elevated blood sugar, thinning of the skin & suppression of the adrenal gland.


What is the difference between Rheumatoid Arthritis & Osteoartritis?

Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic disease which is characterized by inflammation of the lining of the joints, called the synovium. This inflammation can lead to joint damage over time, resulting in chronic pain, and loss of joint function.  Osteoarthritis is chronic disease which is characterized by cartilage break down within the joint, often referred to as "degenerative joint disease" or "degenerative arthritis" or "wear and tear arthritis". As the cartilage wears away, the bones become exposed and rub against each other, often causing pain and difficulty with joint motions like stair climbing.


Where is the best place to live if I have arthritis?

Areas with a dry, hot climate (such as the southwestern United States) have been found to reduce some of the symptoms of arthritis but cannot change the underlying disease or potential damage it may cause. You should visit an area for an extended period of time before making a final decision to move.


My doctor has recommended surgery for my arthritis, what do I need to know?

For some people, joint replacement and other types of surgery can provide significant pain relief and restore physical function. The Arthritis Foundation provides free information about what to expect from your surgery, the rehabilitation process and how to prepare for surgery.


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