Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the most common type of autoimmune arthritis is basically caused when one’s immune system does not work properly. RA causes severe pain and swelling in the small joints of the hand and feet. The damage to the joints that RA causes happens on both sides of the body. Hence, if one joint is affected in one of your legs or arms, the same joint in the other leg or arm will be affected too. This is one of the ways that doctors are able to distinguish RA from other forms of arthritis.
If RA is treated at an early stage, it will provide better and long term results. Treatment for RA at the right time can stop joint pain and swelling and also prevent damage to the joints.
Studies have also proven that people who go in for early treatment for RA feel better and also lead an active life. They are also not expected to have the type of joint damage that would lead to joint replacement. But it is important that one gets the help and treatment of a rheumatologist. As there are always chances of several other diseases that can be mistaken for RA, it is better to have a correct diagnosis and the right treatment.
What is rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that often starts between the ages of 30 and 50. But RA can begin at any age. It causes joint pain, swelling, stiffness and decreased movement of the joints. It is the small joints in the hands and feet that get most commonly affected. There are also chances that RA can affect the organs like eyes, lungs or skin. The stiffness in the joints for those suffering with RA is the worst in the morning. It may last one to two hours or may be the whole day.
Other Signs & Symptoms that occur in RA may include
- Joint stiffness
- Joint pain
- Joint swelling
- Loss of Appetite
- Loss of Energy
How is Rheumatoid arthritis diagnosed?
For the diagnosis of Rheumatoid arthritis, the doctor will ask you to go through lab tests to confirm clinical findings. There are several tools used by the doctor to diagnose RA.
The doctor will enquire about the symptoms and the medical history and perform a physical exam of the joints. They may look for redness and swelling and also try to test muscle strength. The doctor will also touch the affected joints to check for tenderness and warmth.
If your doctor suspects RA, you may be referred to a rheumatologist. As no single test can confirm the diagnosis of RA, the rheumatologist will use several different types of tests.
How is Rheumatoid Arthritis treated?
If medications fail to improve the condition or can’t slow the joint damage, your doctor might suggest surgery to repair damaged joints. Surgery might help you to restore lost functions of your joint and also reduces pain.
The following surgical procedure may involve in treating rheumatoid arthritis:
- Synovectomy is a surgical procedure that removes the inflamed lining of the joints affected with arthritis like knees, elbows, wrists, fingers and hips.
- Repairing the Inflammed tendons of joints damaged due to arthritis surgically.
- Joint fusion is another surgical procedure that helps to stabilize or realign a joint.
- Total joint replacement