Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of autoimmune disorder in which the immune system identifies the synovial membrane as ‘foreign’ and begins attacking it. Its symptoms include tender and swollen joints and joint stiffness, usually worse in the mornings and after inactivity. Fever, fatigue, and loss of appetite are some of its other symptoms.
But do you know there is a connection between severe headaches and rheumatoid arthritis? One research in the Journal of Headache and Pain found that individuals with migraine, which is a severe level of headache, were at least twice as likely to have rheumatoid arthritis as well. We talked to Dr Mohd Bilal Ahmed, Occupational Therapist, Master Of Occupational Therapy (Neurology), 1323 Gali Kar Khaney Wali Tilak Bazar, Delhi, to learn more about it.
What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Dr Bilal stated, "Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system identifies the synovial membrane as ‘foreign’ and begins attacking it."
Also Read: Rheumatoid Arthritis And Its Effects On Women. Know Symptoms & How Critical It Is In Women
Risk Factors Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Positive family history
- Inherited tissue type
- Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) antigen
- Bacterial and fungal infection
- Herpes simplex virus infections
- Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
- Vitamin D deficiency
Anyone can get affected by rheumatoid arthritis, but it strikes women three times more than men. It can affect people of any age, with the peak age being 45 to 65. Its early onset is also possible, and people aged between 20 to 45 can also get affected due to it, according to Dr Bilal.
Connection Between Rheumatoid Arthritis & Migraines
Dr Bilal said they are not directly connected, but migraine can be a risk for the influence of rheumatoid arthritis. He further noted that one research said migraine could increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. One research in the Journal of Headache and Pain found that individuals with migraine, which is a severe level of headache, were at least twice as likely to have rheumatoid arthritis as well. Additionally, research released in the year 2021 in the journal BMJ Open discovered a bidirectional relationship between migraine and RA, meaning that both conditions raise the chance of the other condition.
Also Read: World Arthritis Day 2021: The Link Between Rheumatoid Arthritis and Depression Explained
Although the precise relationship between rheumatoid arthritis and headache is unclear, evidence suggests systemic inflammation may be involved, at least in the case of migraine and rheumatoid arthritis. According to a study review published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation, researchers have also hypothesised that the fundamental process may have to do with the dysfunction of the serotonergic system, which includes the neurotransmitter serotonin.
Tips for Managing A Headache When You Have Rheumatoid Arthritis
Hydration: If you don't consume enough water throughout the day, migraines can occur even if you don't have rheumatoid arthritis. Even the most committed patient can forget to consume water when life gets hectic, so taking care of yourself is essential.
Get Enough Sleep: According to the American Migraine Foundation, those who do not get enough high-quality sleep may also have more headaches. Rheumatoid arthritis pain may exacerbate headaches because it can disrupt sleep.
Quit Smoking & Manage Stress: It is important to quit smoking and manage stress. Talk to your healthcare provider if the symptoms aggravate.
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