Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) causes chronic joint inflammation when your immune system attacks the lining (synovium) of the joints. Commonly, it affects hands, knees, or ankles, usually the same joints on both sides of your body. Sometimes it can affect your eyes, heart and circulatory system, and lungs.
In joints, the inflamed synovium gets thicker, making the joint area feel painful and tender. Moving the red and swollen joint may be difficult.
Unlike the wear-and-tear damage of osteoarthritis, when rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of your joints, it can eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity.
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
You may get very tired and have a low-grade fever. A flare, having a lot of inflammation or other symptoms, can last for days or months. You may not see redness or swelling in your joints, but you may have tenderness and pain.
Clues to RA:
- Small joints typically affected first
- Hands and feet joints
- More than one joint affected
- Same joints on both sides of your body
- Morning stiffness lasting more than 30 minutes
- Joint pain, tenderness, swelling, or stiffness for six weeks or longer
Health effects of RA
Eyes: Dryness, pain, inflammation, redness, sensitivity to light, and trouble seeing properly
Mouth: Dryness and gum inflammation, irritation, or infection
Skin: Rheumatoid nodules or small lumps under the skin over bony areas
Lungs: Inflammation and scarring that can lead to shortness of breath and lung disease
Blood vessels: Inflammation of blood vessels that can lead to damage in the nerves, skin, and other organs
Blood: A lower than normal number of red blood cells
Heart: Inflammation can damage the heart muscle and the surrounding areas.
Painful joints make it hard to exercise and may lead to weight gain.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is difficult to diagnose because there is no one blood test for it at the early stages. The doctor will use your medical history, a physical examination, and lab tests.
Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis
To put the disease in remission, early, aggressive treatment will attempt to stop inflammation or reduce it to the lowest possible level. In addition, treatment will improve function and overall well-being, relieve symptoms, and prevent joint and organ damage. The most important goal is reducing long-term complications. Keeping inflammation at the lowest level possible, the treatment works toward little or no symptoms of active inflammation.
Self-care, including healthy eating, activity, rest, and daily movement, will go far to complement other treatments.
Call now for a consultation with Dr. Nangrani if you are having any of the symptoms mentioned above. She will help you sort out a program to regain your health.
Where are we located?
You are our top priority here at Vedas and Woodlands Functional Family Medicine. In The Woodlands, Texas, our North Houston office is minutes from I-45 (Houston’s North Freeway). Come get acquainted with Dr. Nangrani, our board-certified Medical Director. She has practiced for over 15 years. Please call our office to schedule your free consultation (281) 298-5476. We look forward to seeing you soon!
Source- Mayoclinic, Arthritis Foundation
Image- istock and Mayoclinic