What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is considered an autoimmune disease, which usually affects joints on both sides of the body equally[HM2] . If untreated, it can lead to long-term joint damage with resultant chronic pain, loss of function and disability. Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic illness where the joint is the primary target. It may occur at any age, most commonly in middle aged women.

Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Signs and Symptoms of RA may include:· Aching and pain in more than one joint

  • Stiffness in more than one joint
  • Swelling and/or tenderness in more than one joint
  • Symptoms that are mirrored on both sides of the body (such as both hands)
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness

While the cause of RA is unknown, some risk factors may increase the likelihood of someone developing RA; these risk factors can be genetic or environmental and include:

  • Age – RA is possible at any age, but likelihood increases with age
  • Sex – cases of RA are higher in women
  • Smoking
  • History of live birth – women who have never given birth may be at a higher risk of developing RA
  • Obesity

How is Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosed?

To diagnose RA, your provider will review your symptoms and history and conduct a physical examination where they will check for swelling, redness and warmth. They may also check your reflexes and muscle strength. Additionally, X-rays and lab tests may be ordered.

Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • NSAIDs/Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs – over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen can help reduce mild pain and swelling in joints and muscles.
  • Corticosteroids – corticosteroids such as prednisone may help reduce swelling, pain, and tenderness. High doses can calm the system and help treat flares quickly, and then your provider will gradually lower the amount.
  • Immunosuppressive medications such as methotrexate may be used if NSAIDs do not work.
  • Biologic medicines can significantly assist pain management, reducing inflammation and overall quality of life. Your provider may recommend one of these treatments; infusion drugs can be administered in our in-office infusion suites.
    • Adalimumab (Humira)
    • Certolizumab (Cimzia)
    • Etanercept (Enbrel)
    • Golimumab (Simponi)
    • Infliximab (Remicade)
    • Abatacept (Orencia)
    • Biosimilars
    • Upadacitinib (Rinvoq)
    • Tofacitinib (Xeljanz)

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