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.

Jul 12, 2018

Reclaim: Five Tips for Battling Arthritis Burnout

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Phone calls, doctors’ appointments, prescription refills, bills, insurance paperwork – it can be overwhelming and exhausting for arthritis patients. Fighting this disease can feel like an uphill and never-ending battle, and it will take its toll on those who suffer from it. Chronically ill patients can quickly become burned out trying to manage their illness, […]

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Jul 9, 2018

Regain: Eight Energy-Boosting Tips

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Fighting fatigue is a daily struggle for people who have arthritis. Instead of suffering through or missing fun activities because arthritis has you exhausted, follow these eight energy-boosting tips. Eat superfoods. What we put into our body has a huge impact on how it operates. Unhealthy, high caffeine, or sugary foods may provide a brief […]

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Jun 14, 2018

5 Tips for Enjoying the Beach this Summer with Arthritis

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In North Carolina, there is no shortage of things to do outdoors. With many beautiful beach choices here on the east coast, there is a spot for anyone looking to find some surf. However, for those who suffer from arthritis, a beach day just isn’t that easy. Fatigue, joint pain, stiffness and depression make it […]

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