For a person living with rheumatoid arthritis, simple tasks that were once enjoyable, such as gardening, playing the guitar, and spending time with grandchildren, can become a painful ordeal. This is because the disorder attacks the small joints that people have in their hands and feet.
If you suspect that you or someone you know may have rheumatoid arthritis, meet with a rheumatologist and contact Arthritis & Osteoporosis Clinic of Brazos Valley today. Our early arthritis clinic can schedule you for an appointment with a rheumatologist within a few weeks of your call, so we can get you checked out and started on treatment as quickly as possible.
Rheumatoid Arthritis and the Immune System
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder. It is caused when a person’s immune system mistakenly believes that their body’s tissues are dangerous substances and begins to attack them. In addition to causing debilitating joint pain, the condition can also lead to skin, lung, and blood vessel problems.
What Causes Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Medical professionals are still learning about the causes of rheumatoid arthritis. The disorder begins when a person’s immune system starts to attack the synovium, or the lining that surrounds joints. As the synovium starts to swell and becomes inflamed, it puts pressure on the cartilage and the bones of the joint. This causes the ligaments to stretch and become weak. Over time, the joint will lose it shape and become misaligned.
Rheumatoid arthritis can lead to things like carpal tunnel syndrome, blocked arteries, and inflammation of the heart. Individuals who have the disorder are also at greater risk for lung scarring and inflammation, which leads to shortness of breath. All of these things underscore the importance of seeing a physician at the moment the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis become apparent.
What Are the Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis has many symptoms including
- Stiffness after long periods of inactivity, which may last for hours
- Joints that become tender, swollen, and warm
- Rheumatoid nodules, or hard bumps under the tissue of the skin of the arms
- Fatigue, noticeable weight loss, and fever
Rheumatoid arthritis begins in the smaller joints, like those in the fingers and toes. As the disease progresses, it affects the elbows, wrists, knees, ankles, hips, and shoulders. In most cases, symptoms will develop on both sides of the body.
The symptoms of the disorder can fluctuate in severity. An individual dealing with this condition may even go through periods of time where their symptoms go into remission, followed by periods of increased activity, referred to as flares. With time, it will cause a person’s joints to move out of place and to become deformed.
There is no minimum age for a person to develop rheumatoid arthritis. However, it is more prevalent in individuals who are 40 years and older. While this condition affects both women and men, it is more common in women.
How can Rheumatoid Arthritis be Treated and Managed?
Although there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, there are a number of treatment options a rheumatologist can provide to help control and manage its symptoms. Our early arthritis clinic was created to help patients catch arthritis, particularly rheumatoid arthritis, in its early stages in order to slow its progression. Our practice also offers patients biologics that can help combat the condition at its source, targeting the specific areas of the immune system that have begun attacking the body.
If you know or suspect that you have this condition, contact The Arthritis & Osteoporosis Clinic of Brazos Valley today today to begin treatment.