Rheumatoid arthritis or RA is commonly referred to as disabling, but recent developments in treatment have allowed significantly better outcomes for patients. RA is the most common type of autoimmune arthritis and affects 1.3 million Americans. The condition is caused when the immune systems attack healthy tissues in the body.
Normally, the immune system targets bacteria and viruses in the body. Unfortunately, this condition causes the immune system to target tissues with inflammation, which causes irreversible damage. When joints are targeted, they swell and cause pain for patients. RA primarily occurs in women between the ages of 30 and 50.
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease, so patients must learn how to live with the condition. There is a wide variety of symptoms patients can experience. They primarily show up in smaller joints like the hands and feet. RA can even target organs, eyes, or skin. You can view the full list of symptoms below.
- Joint pain, stiffness, swelling
- Decreased movement in joints
- Joint stiffness more present in the mornings
- Lack of energy
- Minor fevers
- Appetite loss
- Firm lumps around the elbows and hands
- Dry eyes and mouth
Symptoms vary greatly from person to person. There are also many different levels of cases when it comes to rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid nodules are the lumps patients may develop. They grow beneath the skin, and only about a quarter of people with RA develop them.
Diagnosing and Treating RA
Rheumatoid arthritis is best diagnosed using blood tests. The doctor will also examine joints, organs, and may use X-rays or ultrasounds. Many of these test options must be used to identify the condition. Blood tests can provide several different outcomes for those who have RA. Some viral infections can appear as rheumatoid arthritis, but Dr. Brionez is sure to identify what is affecting the patient.
There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, but the methods of treating the symptoms have come a long way. Therapy can significantly improve the state of joints. Therapy paired with medication can help patients live a more comfortable life. Of course, the treatment options vary for each case.