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.

Nov 10, 2018

Seven Tips for Boosting Self-Esteem with Arthritis

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It’s hard to keep healthy self-esteem and positive body image when your body is literally turning on you. When you have arthritis, managing physical symptoms and preventing future damage are focal points of your treatment. Unfortunately, arthritis can take a heavy emotional and mental toll as well. The emotional and mental sides may not be […]

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Nov 2, 2018

Seven Strategies for Managing Flare-ups During the Holidays

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While this is the most wonderful time of the year for most, for those who suffer from arthritis it means increased chances of painful flare-ups. A flare-up is defined as pain, inflammation, stiffness, and fatigue that can limit your ability to life everyday life. If not effectively managed, arthritis flare-ups can hinder your lifestyle and […]

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Oct 25, 2018

Six Strategies on How to Stay Positive When Living with Arthritis

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We are all too familiar with the physical side of arthritis; the achy joints, endless fatigue, and the overwhelming stiffness. But there is a rarely discussed emotional side as well; the stress, anxiety, and depression that can accompany arthritis. Understanding the link between your physical symptoms and your emotions is an important part of the […]

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