Top Questions about Rheumatoid Arthritis

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013, 1:30 pm

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, autoimmune condition, typically found in adults over age 40. While it can impact any joint, it is most common in the small joints of hands and feet. Rheumatoid arthritis is also more common in women than men.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common questions about this condition.

  1. What are some symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis? Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include stiff, swollen, painful joints, and bumps of tissue under the skin on your arms (called “rheumatoid nodules”). In its early stages, rheumatoid arthritis manifests itself in fingers and toes. Over time, the disease may progress to knees, ankles, hips, or shoulders.
  2. What causes rheumatoid arthritis? Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system attacks the lining of the membranes around your joints. The inflammation that results destroys the cartilage within the joint, making the ligaments that hold the joint in place weak. At present, it is unknown exactly what sets off this process. Many doctors believe that some people are genetically predisposed to rheumatoid arthritis. Certain factors, such as infection or a virus, may also contribute to the disease.
  3. How is rheumatoid arthritis diagnosed? Rheumatoid arthritis is often difficult to diagnose, especially in its early-stages. This is because symptoms of the disease are so similar to other conditions. However, taking x-rays of the hands or feet are normally the most effective way to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis. Additionally, an ultrasound or MRI may be done in order to detect the amount of joint damage and inflammation. Your doctor will also order blood tests to establish the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis.
  4. How can you treat rheumatoid arthritis? Currently, there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, so controlling the disease is key. From a medical standpoint, a rheumatologist treats patients with rheumatoid arthritis by prescribing medications and sometimes ordering blood tests. Your doctor can help establish a treatment plan that will help you control the condition. Medications, including steroids and over-the-counter painkillers, can be effective in reducing pain and inflammation. Your doctor may also suggest physical therapy, since that will help strengthen and exercise your joints. If nonsurgical treatment methods do not work, surgery may be required. Common operations done in the foot or ankle for patients with rheumatoid arthritis include ankle replacements, fusion surgery, as well as forefoot reconstructions for pain in the ball of the foot and bunions.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment in Las Vegas

To learn more about rheumatoid arthritis treatments or any services we offer, contact us today to schedule an appointment. We are located in Las Vegas, Henderson, and North Las Vegas, and we can be reached at (702) 731-1616. We look forward to hearing from you.

Category: Arthritis, News

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