Rheumatoid Arthritis

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Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory joint disease which affects 1% of the population.

That means there are at least 3 million people in the United States who have rheumatoid arthritis.

The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown but we do know that genetic and environmental factors play a role. Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms include swollen, painful joints and generalized stiffness especially in the morning or after periods of inactivity.

Some patients may present with an explosive onset of multiple swollen joints initially, but the more common presentation is a slower onset of flare-ups and modest remissions over many months with a gradual decline in function associated with increasing joint symptoms.  The most common joints involved are the small joints of the hands and feet as well as the wrists, however any joint may be involved.

A diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is made by an experienced rheumatologist who listens carefully to your history, performs a detailed physical exam with special interest in your joints, and then also reviews laboratories and x-ray findings including special tests called rheumatoid factors and CCP antibodies. Your rheumatologist will then devise a treatment strategy for you. Emphasis on treating your symptoms of joint pain and swelling as well as preventing deformity and disability is important.

You may require a number of medications to reduce inflammation and prevent joint destruction as part of your treatment plan. Newer therapies over the last fifteen years have changed peoples’ lives with rheumatoid arthritis. Complete remissions are now more common place where in the past these were not. Aggressive early intervention is a key principal of treatment in this day and time.

Methotrexate

Methotrexate has been used for over 30 years as the foundation of treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. It can frequently make people feel much better but may not prevent long-term joint destruction. Newer medications called biologics have been used in combination with methotrexate to bring about improvement in symptoms, prevent joint destruction, and keep patients living normal productive lives. Rheumatologists are experts at using these medications and monitoring for potential side effects. The outlook is much brighter for patients with rheumatoid arthritis these days thanks to significant he answered truthfully he is improvements in therapies.

Jan 15, 2019

10 Ways to Build your Quality of Life with Arthritis

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People living with arthritis are often discouraged by how much the disease can take from their life. If you have arthritis, physical limitations caused by chronic pain and fatigue can diminish your quality of life. When you suffer from arthritis, so much energy is consumed just trying to accomplish ordinary tasks and usual daily activities […]

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Jan 8, 2019

Nine Strategies for Managing Depression Caused by Arthritis

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Anyone who suffers from arthritis knows that the blues can become a part of life. According to The Arthritis Foundation, “People with arthritis have high rates of depression and anxiety. Many of those affected don’t receive mental health treatment – which could potentially help with their physical arthritis symptoms.” The good news is that it […]

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Dec 12, 2018

Tips for Cold Weather Exercise with Arthritis

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Winter has hit North Carolina! And while it may not be officially considered winter for a few weeks, these frigid days tell us otherwise. The temperatures are quickly dropping and that comfy couch and cozy blanket are much more appealing than a brisk walk outside. Unfortunately, inactivity will make pain and depression worse for arthritis […]

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