Your doctor may refer you to a doctor who specializes in arthritis (rheumatologist). Rheumatologists diagnose people with rheumatoid arthritis based on a combination of several factors. They will perform a physical exam and ask you questions about your medical history and symptoms. Your rheumatologist will order blood tests and imaging tests. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause other medical problems, such as: Working with your doctor to make sure you receive proper medical treatment is essential, but you can also take steps yourself to manage your RA and relieve pain and fatigue. Diet, exercise, smoking cessation, and mental health are essential to overall good health and RA control. Get help setting health goals and managing pain with the free Vim app. Getting an accurate diagnosis as soon as possible is the first step to effectively treating RA. A doctor with specialized training in treating arthritis (called a rheumatologist) is the best person to make a correct diagnosis using medical history, a physical exam, and laboratory tests. Treatments for rheumatoid arthritis include lifestyle changes, therapies, medications, and surgeries.
Your provider will consider your age, health, medical history, and the severity of your symptoms if you decide to seek treatment. There are several risk factors for developing rheumatoid arthritis. About 40% of people with rheumatoid arthritis also have signs and symptoms that do not affect the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect many uncomfortable structures, including: A doctor or team of doctors who specialize in caring for RA patients should diagnose and treat RA. This is especially important because the signs and symptoms of RA are not specific and what the signs and symptoms of other inflammatory joint diseases may look like. Doctors who specialize in arthritis are called rheumatologists, and they can make the right diagnosis. To find a provider near you, visit the rheumatologist databaseexternal symbol on the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) website. The safest drug for rheumatoid arthritis is the one that gives you the most benefits with the least negative side effects. It depends on your medical history and the severity of your RA symptoms.
Your doctor will work with you to develop a treatment plan. The medications prescribed by your doctor are tailored to the severity of your condition. Providers sometimes use the term “early rheumatoid arthritis” to describe the disease in people who have had symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis for less than six months. It is less common than osteoarthritis. OA, a condition that occurs in many people due to wear and tear on the joints as they age. Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, involves removing the cartilage that covers the bones of your joints. In rheumatoid arthritis, the synovial membrane becomes inflamed, which protects and lubricates the joints, causing pain and swelling. Joint erosion may follow. The inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis can also damage other parts of the body. Although new types of medications have significantly improved treatment options, severe rheumatoid arthritis can still cause physical disability. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a condition that causes inflammation of the joints and surrounding tissues.
It is a long-term disease. It can also affect other organs. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has many physical and social consequences and can affect quality of life. It can cause pain, disability and premature death. While you can`t completely prevent flares, there are steps you can take to manage them. It might be helpful to write down your symptoms in a journal each day, as well as what`s going on in your life. Share this journal with your rheumatologist, who can help you identify triggers. Then you can work on managing those triggers. A permanent condition like rheumatoid arthritis can make you feel like you don`t have much control over your quality of life.
While there are aspects of RA that you can`t control, there are things you can do to help you feel your best. The main goal of rheumatoid arthritis treatment is to reduce joint pain and swelling. This should help maintain or improve joint function. The long-term goal of treatment is to slow or stop joint damage. Controlling joint inflammation reduces your pain and improves your quality of life. Balance between activity and rest. It`s important to try to stay physically active even during a flare-up, but rest is also especially important when RA is active and joints are painful, swollen, or stiff. Rest helps reduce the inflammation and fatigue that can accompany a flare-up. Taking breaks throughout the day is easy for joints and saves energy. Doctors don`t know what triggers this process, although a genetic component is likely.
While your genes may not actually cause rheumatoid arthritis, they can make you more susceptible to environmental factors — such as infections by certain viruses and bacteria — that can trigger the disease. Rheumatoid arthritis and gout are two types of painful arthritis. Symptoms of gout include severe pain, redness, stiffness, swelling, and warmth in the big toe or other joints. In gout, uric acid crystals cause inflammation. In rheumatoid arthritis, it is your immune system that causes joint damage. Two laboratory tests that are positive in most people and often help with diagnosis are: RA is the most common form of autoimmune arthritis. It affects more than 1.3 million Americans. About 75% of RA patients are women. In fact, 1-3% of women may suffer from rheumatoid arthritis during their lifetime.
The disease most often begins between the ages of 30 and 50. However, RA can start at any age. Fortunately, current treatments can help people with the disease lead productive lives. Corticosteroids – These medications work very well to reduce joint swelling and inflammation, but they can have long-term side effects. Therefore, they should only be taken for a short time and if possible in low doses. Early rheumatoid arthritis tends to affect your small joints first, especially the joints that attach your fingers to your hands and your toes to your feet. Anti-inflammatories: These include aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and celecoxib. Infections, genes and hormonal changes can be linked to the disease.
Smoking may also be linked to RA. Other therapies that can help relieve joint pain include: Normally, your immune system protects your body from disease. In rheumatoid arthritis, something triggers your immune system to attack your joints. Infection, smoking, or physical or emotional stress can be triggers. Patients with more severe disease may need medications called biologic response modifiers or “biologics.” They can block chemical signals from the immune system that lead to inflammation and joint/tissue damage. FDA-approved drugs of this type include abatacept (Orencia), adalimumab (Humira), anakinra (Kineret), certolizumab (Cimzia), etanercept (Enbrel), golimumab (Simponi), infliximab (Remicade), rituximab (Rituxan, MabThera), sarilumab (Kevzara), and tocilizumab (Actemra). Most often, patients take these drugs with methotrexate, since the mixture of drugs is more useful. Regular exercise can help prevent and reverse these effects. You may want to start by seeing a physical or occupational therapist for advice on how to exercise safely. Beneficial workouts include:.
If you do not respond well to DMARDs, your supplier may prescribe biological reagents (biologics). Biologics target molecules that cause inflammation in your joints. Sellers believe that biologics are more effective because they attack cells at a more specific level. These products include: In women, RA most often begins between the ages of 30 and 60. The signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can vary in severity and even come and go. Periods of increased disease activity, called flare-ups, alternate with periods of relative remission — when swelling and pain fade or disappear. Over time, rheumatoid arthritis can cause deformity and displacement of the joints. Stress reduction and complementary therapies.
There are many ways to relax and stop focusing on the pain. These include meditation, deep breathing, and reflecting on images in your head that make you happy. Massage can help relieve pain, relax muscle aches, and relieve stress or anxiety. Acupuncture involves inserting fine needles into the body along special points to relieve pain. If you don`t like needles, acupressure uses firm pressure instead. Blood tests look for inflammation and blood proteins (antibodies) that are signs of rheumatoid arthritis. These may include: Researchers don`t know what causes the immune system to turn against joints and other body tissues. Studies show that a combination of the following factors can lead to the disease: Fraenkel L, Bathon JM, England BR, et al. 2021 American College of Rheumatology Guideline for the Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Arthritis Care (Hoboken). 2021;73(7):924-939. PMID: 34101387 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34101387/.
Most of the time, RA affects joints on both sides of the body equally. Fingers, wrists, knees, feet, elbows, ankles, hips and shoulders are most often affected. Some people with RA may have intolerance or allergies to certain foods. A nutritious balanced diet is recommended. It may be helpful to eat foods rich in fish oils (omega-3 fatty acids). We need to stop smoking cigarettes. Excessive alcohol consumption should also be avoided. Researchers don`t know why people develop RA.