Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune inflammatory disease that causes your immune system to attack its own cells and cause inflammation in various parts of your body. Like other arthritic conditions, it primarily affects the joints, often impacting several of them at once.
It isn’t clear what specifically causes the disease, but several factors can increase your risk of developing it. RA is most common for people in their 60s and affects women more commonly than men, particularly women who have never given birth. Genetic factors, such as inheriting human leukocyte antigen class II genes, as well as lifestyle factors, such as smoking and obesity. also increase your risk.
Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms are not always constant. They can intensify for temporary periods of time during “flare-ups” and improve again for a period of time. Symptoms generally include joint pain, stiffness, tenderness and swelling, weight loss, fever, fatigue, weakness, and the occurrence of the same symptoms on both sides of the body.
RA also increases your risk of developing other chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. This risk is even greater for people who are obese, as they face a greater possibility of developing heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol. Additionally, even ordinary physical activities may become more challenging due to the increased joint pain caused by the disease.
There are a variety of different treatment approaches to rheumatoid arthritis, including lifestyle changes, medications, physical therapy, and surgical options.
Regular exercise and a balanced diet can help manage the disease even if you’ve already developed it, as these changes can reduce joint inflammation and stress. However, while this approach effectively tackles risk factors for RA, it won’t resolve all symptoms.
A doctor may provide one or more of several different types of medications for rheumatoid arthritis pain relief, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, and biologics. Generally, these drugs decrease joint inflammation to reduce the pain caused by RA.
If these approaches fail to effectively relieve the pain caused by your rheumatoid arthritis, your doctor may recommend surgery to either replace the affected joints or correct a deformity that may be contributing to your condition.
Let our specialists help you find the right approach to treating your rheumatoid arthritis and managing your joint pain. Schedule a consultation with one of our doctors now.