Which Doctor To Consult For Rheumatoid Arthritis

Which Doctor To Consult For Rheumatoid Arthritis – Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of arthritis where your immune system attacks the tissues that line the joints on both sides of your body. It can also affect other parts of your body. The exact cause is not known. Treatment options include lifestyle changes, physical therapy, occupational therapy, nutritional therapy, medication, and surgery.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic (long-lasting) autoimmune disease. It occurs in joints on both sides of your body, which is different from other types of arthritis. You may experience symptoms such as pain and inflammation:

Which Doctor To Consult For Rheumatoid Arthritis

Uncontrolled inflammation damages cartilage, which normally acts as a “shock absorber” in your joints. Over time, this can deform your joints. Eventually, your bone will erode on its own. This can cause your joint to fuse (an attempt by your body to protect itself from constant irritation).

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Specialized cells in your immune system (your body’s infection-fighting system) help with this process. These substances are produced in your joints but circulate throughout the body and cause symptoms. In addition to affecting your joints, rheumatoid arthritis can sometimes affect other parts of your body, including your:

Rheumatoid arthritis affects more than 1.3 million people in the United States. It is 2.5 times more common in people assigned female at birth than in people assigned male at birth.

RA usually begins to develop between the ages of 30 and 60. But anyone can get rheumatoid arthritis. In children and young adults — usually between the ages of 16 and 40 — it’s called juvenile-onset rheumatoid arthritis (YORA). In people whose symptoms develop after age 60, it’s called late-onset rheumatoid arthritis (LORA).

Rheumatoid arthritis affects everyone differently. In some people, common symptoms develop over several years. In other people, rheumatoid arthritis symptoms develop quickly. Many people have symptoms (flare up) and then go into remission (remission) without symptoms.

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Everyone’s experience with rheumatoid arthritis is a little different. But many people with RA say fatigue is among the worst symptoms of the disease.

Living with chronic pain can be exhausting. And fatigue can make it harder to control your pain. It’s important to take care of your body and take a break before you overexert yourself.

The symptoms of a flare-up of rheumatoid arthritis are not very different from the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. But there are upsides for people with RA. A flare is a time when you have significant symptoms after feeling better for a while. With treatment, you may have periods when you feel better. Then, stress, changes in the weather, certain foods or infections trigger a period of disease activity.

While you can’t completely prevent flare-ups, there are steps you can take to help manage them. It helps to write down your symptoms in a journal every day, along with what’s going on in your life. Share this journal with your rheumatologist who can help you identify triggers. You can then work to manage these triggers.

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The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown. Researchers believe it is caused by a combination of genes, hormones and environmental factors.

Normally, your immune system protects your body from disease. With rheumatoid arthritis, something triggers your immune system to attack your joints. An infection, smoking, or physical or emotional stress can trigger it.

Scientists have studied many genes as potential risk factors for RA. Certain genetic variations and non-genetic factors contribute to the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Non-genetic factors include gender and exposure to irritants and pollutants.

People born with changes in the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) gene are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis. HLA genes help your immune system tell the difference between proteins your body makes and proteins from invaders like viruses and bacteria.

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Your healthcare provider may refer you to a rheumatologist. Rheumatoid arthritis is diagnosed based on a combination of several factors. They will perform a physical exam and ask you about your medical history and symptoms. Your rheumatologist will order blood tests and imaging tests.

Blood tests look for inflammation and blood proteins (antibodies) that are symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. These may include:

Your rheumatologist may order imaging tests to look for signs that your joints are getting worse. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause the bones in your joints to wear down. Imaging tests may include:

In some cases, your provider may look at how you’re doing over time before making a definitive diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Archives

Diagnostic criteria are a set of signs, symptoms, and test results that your provider will look for before diagnosing you with rheumatoid arthritis. They are based on years of research and clinical practice. Some people with RA do not meet all the criteria. However, in general, the diagnostic criteria for rheumatoid arthritis are:

The most important goal of treating rheumatoid arthritis is to reduce joint pain and swelling. Doing so helps maintain or improve joint function. The long-term goal of treatment is to slow or stop joint damage. Controlling joint inflammation can reduce your pain and improve your quality of life.

Joint damage usually occurs within the first two years of diagnosis, so it’s important to see your provider if you notice symptoms. Treating rheumatoid arthritis during this “window of opportunity” can help prevent long-term sequelae.

Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis includes lifestyle changes, therapy, medication, and surgery. Your provider will consider your age, health, medical history, and how bad your symptoms are when deciding on a treatment.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment

Early treatment with certain medications can improve your long-term results. Combinations of drugs may be more effective and appear to be as safe as single-drug therapy.

Many medications are available to reduce joint pain, swelling, and inflammation, and to prevent or slow the disease. Medications used to treat rheumatoid arthritis include:

COX-2 inhibitors are another type of NSAID. They include products such as celecoxib (Celebrex®). COX-2 inhibitors cause less bleeding in your stomach than typical NSAIDs.

Unlike other NSAIDs, DMARDs can slow the disease process by modulating your immune system. Your provider may prescribe only DMARDs in combination with steroids or other medications. Common DMARDs include:

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JAK inhibitors are another type of DMARD. Gout specialists often prescribe JAK inhibitors for people who do not improve with methotrexate alone. These products include:

If you don’t respond well to DMARDs, your provider may recommend biologics (biologics). Biologics target molecules that cause inflammation in your joints. Providers believe biologics are more effective because biologics attack cells at a more specific level. These products include:

Biologics work quickly—two to six weeks. Your provider may prescribe them alone or in combination with a DMARD such as methotrexate.

The safest medication for rheumatoid arthritis is the one that gives you the maximum benefit with the least negative side effects. This will vary depending on your health history and the severity of your RA symptoms. Your healthcare provider will work with you to develop a treatment program. Medications prescribed by your healthcare provider will be tailored to the severity of your condition.

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Regular appointments with your healthcare provider are important. They will look for any side effects and change your treatment if necessary. Your healthcare provider may order tests to determine how effective your treatment is and whether you are having side effects.

When combined with treatments and medications your provider recommends, dietary changes can help reduce inflammation and other symptoms of RA. But it won’t cure you. You can talk to your doctor about adding good fats and reducing bad fats, salt and processed carbohydrates. Herbal or dietary supplements such as collagen cannot cure rheumatoid arthritis. These dietary changes are safer and more successful when supervised by your rheumatologist.

But there are lifestyle changes that can help relieve your symptoms. Your rheumatologist may recommend weight loss to reduce stress on swollen joints.

People with rheumatoid arthritis are also at increased risk of coronary artery disease. High blood cholesterol (a risk factor for coronary artery disease) may respond to changes in diet. A nutritionist can recommend specific foods to eat or avoid to achieve desired cholesterol levels.

Arthritis Pain Management

Surgery may be an option to restore function in severely damaged joints. If medications do not control your pain, your provider may recommend surgery. Surgeries that treat RA include:

Although there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, there are many effective ways to reduce your pain and inflammation and slow your disease process. Early diagnosis and effective treatment are very important.

If you have a lifelong disease like rheumatoid arthritis, you may feel like you have little control over your quality of life. Although there are aspects of RA that you cannot control, there are things you can do to feel the best you can.

When your joints are inflamed, the risk of injury to your joints and nearby soft tissue structures (tendons and ligaments) is high. Therefore, you should rest your swollen joints. But it’s important that you still exercise. Maintaining a good range of motion in your joints and good fitness in general are important for managing RA.

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Pain and stiffness can slow you down. Some people with rheumatoid arthritis are inactive. But inaction can lead to one

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