Hearing your Rheumatologist or other physicians say that you have a chronic condition such as rheumatoid arthritis can be a very difficult experience. While there is no cure for this condition, you must also know there are now very effective and successful treatments for this condition that has been so devastating to patients in the past resulting in disability, chronic pain, joint surgeries, loss of employment, and inability to perform the usual activities of daily living (ADLs).
Learning to control and manage your chronic symptoms can help you lead a normal and active life. Understanding and recognizing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis early can enable you to seek the treatment you need before your condition progresses into more advanced stages. Find out more about rheumatoid arthritis with our own Board Certified Rheumatologist Mark Fisher MD FACR in Haddon Heights, NJ.
What is rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune condition causing the body’s immune system to activate a multitude of inflammatory substances in your body. This causes inflammation, swelling, and discomfort and occurs most often in the hands, wrists, elbows, knees, and ankles and almost any joint in the body. It usually occurs in a symmetrical distribution, affecting both large and small joints. If left untreated or inadequately treated, rheumatoid arthritis begins damaging the cartilage and bones themselves, causing the space between the bones to lessen, erosions in the bone can occur, deformities result, pain and swelling worsen and function deteriorates.
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
One of the most common early warning signs of rheumatoid arthritis development is pain, stiffness, and tenderness in the joints. Patients in the earliest stages of this disease often do not notice any redness or swelling, but this does occur as the condition advances. Common signs of rheumatoid arthritis include:
- joint pain
- prolonged morning joint stiffness, lasting 1/2 hour to many hours
- joint tenderness, swelling, or redness
- symptoms usually occur in multiple joints
- symptoms frequently occur symmetrically in similar joints on both sides of the body (i.e: both ankles, both wrists, hands, knees, shoulders )
- symptoms last longer than six weeks
- Of course, other medical conditions such as Lyme disease and others can sometimes give similar symptoms and this is the reason that early medical evaluation by your primary or Rheumatology physician is so important
- Early intervention has been shown to give the best results for joint protection and preservation, and the best response to treatment, avoidance of surgery, and maintenance of good function and activity
Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatments
Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis varies from patient to patient and depends on the stage and severity of the condition and other existing medical conditions. The main goals of treatment are to manage pain, reduce and stop inflammation, relieve and eliminate symptoms, and prevent long-term joint damage and disabling disease. It is very important to begin treatment early to start reducing inflammation. Some medications work to reduce the inflammation and symptoms of the disease while others work to slow down and prevent joint damage.
Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Agents (NSAIDs) - These medications work to help reduce symptoms of stiffness and pain, but do not protect the joints from damage. These can be both over the counter or prescription.
Corticosteroids - are generally used on a more short term basis and can be helpful in reducing inflammation acutely and short term while an effective medical program is developed with discussion between the patient and the treating physician. These medications can be very helpful to quickly reduce symptoms of pain and swelling and do have risks for many serious side effects. This is the reason they are used primarily for acute management while the long term program is instituted.
Disease Modifying Anti-rheumatic Drugs (DMARDS) - help reduce the signs and symptoms of RA. They work by slowing down joint damage and reducing inflammation. The conventional DMARDs can be very helpful in reducing the inflammatory activity and potential damage in joints. More aggressive and more successful management with biological DMARDs or monoclonal antibodies and others that have been placed in use over the past 20 years have made huge strides and fantastic differences in the management of this once devastating illness and improved the lives of millions of patients worldwide.
Of course, all medicines have potentially serious risks and must be discussed and understood, and these are very important concerns.
Other aspects of the treatment program may also include physical and occupational therapy, exercises, and proper nutrition. Some nutraceuticals such as omega 3s, flaxseed oil, turmeric/curcumin can add some further anti-inflammatory activity as a supplement but not a replacement for these overwhelmingly successful treatment programs
In severe cases, surgery to repair or replace the joint may become necessary. However, early visits and treatments can help reduce the need for surgery.
Current treatments and medication offer very effective ways to manage this condition successfully.
For more information on rheumatoid arthritis and its treatment, please contact our Board Certified Rheumatologist Mark Fisher, MD FACR in Haddon Heights, NJ. Call (856) 547-8004 to schedule your appointment today! He does serve the Southern NJ area in Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Atlantic, and Cumberland Counties area.
How your doctor in Camden County, and Southern New Jersey can help osteoporosis.
You have probably heard a lot about osteoporosis in the press and conversations. As you are getting older, you may be concerned if it may be affecting you. It is important to know that there is a lot you can do to prevent osteoporosis, and importantly, you should know that there are effective treatments to help your bones stay strong. Dr. Mark Fisher in Haddon Heights, New Jersey offers several effective solutions to treat osteoporosis. He serves residents of Haddon, Heights, Hammonton, and Camden, Gloucester, and Burlington Counties, New Jersey and he can help you feel better too!
What is osteoporosis? It is a medical condition which is caused by the loss of more bone than the body can produce. Low bone density can lead to higher risks for fractures and negative impacts on many other health and medical conditions. Osteoporosis can be a very threatening and morbid condition to those affected, and this problem must be treated very seriously and actively managed to the best of our abilities with due diligence. Recognition of this condition and keen awareness is key and paramount to doing this successfully.
Dr. Mark Fisher, Rheumatologist in Haddon Heights, NJ, is a specialist who actively cares for people with this condition and is very proactive and concerned about the proper assessment and management of osteoporosis and fracture risk and prevention in his patients.
There are 2 million fractures yearly in the U.S.
There are 54 million Americans with either low bone density or osteoporosis. Half of all women and a quarter of men over the age of 50 years will have a bone fracture in their lifetime. The risk for a hip fracture is equal to the risks combined for developing breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers. These risks for osteoporosis are seen across all racial groups with the greatest risks for bone loss noted in White and Asian women and less in Afro-American and Latino women. It is important to understand that this disease is seen in all such groups, and should be actively assessed and recognized in all women regardless of racial or ethnic backgrounds.
Achieving maximum peak bone mass as menopause is reached is important and this can lower risks for osteoporosis. Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia can also increase risks for bone loss. In addition, there are several other medical disorders and risk factors that result in osteoporosis.
You can help prevent or minimize bone loss by having a healthy diet and including regular exercise. Remember to:
Eat plenty of protein from lean meats, nuts, and legumes
Eat calcium-rich foods like low-fat dairy, salmon, or vegetables
Get enough vitamin D3 with at least 1000 IU from sunlight or supplements
Resistive Exercise with weights, weight bearing, and balancing exercises
If you think you might have osteoporosis or are concerned about possible bone loss, it is important to seek out the help of an expert. Your Rheumatologist Dr. Mark Fisher is a Board Certified Rheumatologist by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Your doctor may recommend medications called bisphosphonates and other new medications to help improve your bone density and reduce further bone loss and reduce your risks for fractures.
Osteoporosis can be very subtle with no early symptoms, but you don’t have to let it affect your life. To find out more about osteoporosis treatment call Dr. Mark Fisher in Haddon Heights, New Jersey, serving residents of Haddon Heights, and all of South Jersey, Hammonton, Burlington, Camden, and Gloucester County, NJ. Call now 856-547-8004, and protect your health!
Find out the best ways to manage your joint pain and inflammation for the long term.
Have you been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis? This chronic autoimmune condition attacks the lining of the joints, causing stiffness in your joints, joint swelling and pain that can lead to complications such as deformity and bone loss and functional impairments. This is the reason it is so important that those with Rheumatoid Arthritis have a Rheumatologist like our own Board Certified Rheumatologist, Dr. Mark Fisher in Haddon Heights, NJ, who can provide the effective treatment plan you need to manage symptoms and to prevent complications and most importantly to try and keep you active and enjoying the activities you love.
Even though there is currently no cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis, our Haddon Heights, NJ, Rheumatoid Arthritis Doctor can create a treatment plan and help you determine the right medication (or medications) to help you manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Our goal is to make living with RA easier for you. Make no mistake about the fact that No Cure DOES NOT MEAN there is no effective life-changing treatments!! There are good effective treatments available to you!!
Here are the most common treatments that our doctor may prescribe:
ALL Medications have potential risks and the benefits vs risks of medications must always be taken into account for your condition and other medical problems if present.
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
This includes those over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or naproxen, which can help alleviate mild inflammation and discomfort. Of course, our rheumatologist may also prescribe stronger NSAIDs if these OTC medications aren’t enough.
One of the most commonly used steroids for treating RA is prednisone. This is a very strong medication that can handle more severe forms of inflammation while also slowing down joint damage. Of course, this medication should only be used for a short period of time and not long term. This is always to be considered only for temporary care where possible.
Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs
These medications do several things: they slow the progression of RA ; they help to protect the joints and tissues around the joints from serious and long-term damage and deformity; they reduce ongoing pain and symptoms of the arthritis by reducing the inflammation caused by this disease; and most importantly, they help to keep patients maintaining their quality of life.
Biological Monoclonal Antibodies and Small Molecule Medications:
These medications act on specific areas of the immune system that are responsible for triggering an inflammatory response in the body and damage from this chronic inflammatory disease. By suppressing these areas of the immune system, the medications can reduce inflammation, joint damage and deformities from occurring, and also other systemic effects of RA. New such medications are becoming available all of the time. These medications, in particular, have been life-changing for so many patients with RA.
These are very costly and the expense can be prohibitive. Fortunately, most insurances do help with these costs.
Also, the pharmaceutical companies do offer financial assistance for most patients requiring it, making it more affordable to many patients.
Other Treatment Options for Rheumatoid Arthritis:
Medications aren’t the only modality needed to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Your Rheumatologist may also recommend exercise or physical therapy to help keep joints feeling their best and keeping mobility optimal. Regular physical therapy can help keep joints supple and flexible. A physical therapist can also provide a list of advice and tips for how to execute certain everyday tasks to make it easier on you and your body.
In severe cases, it might be necessary to have surgery to repair joint damage and keep a patient active. Surgery may also be the only way to restore functionality within certain damaged joints or to correct deformities as a result of RA. Fortunately, the need for surgery has been significantly reduced in patients being treated early with a Rheumatologist with the newer medications currently available.
If you are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, or if you are experiencing symptoms that you believe to be RA and you are living in or around Haddon Heights, NJ, or Southern NJ in Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Atlantic, and Cumberland Counties, please give our office a call today to learn more about the different ways in which we can help you treat your long-term condition early and effectively. Call our Board Certified Rheumatologist
Mark Fisher MD FACR at 856-547-8004 today.
Most major health insurances and Medicare are accepted.
What your doctor in Haddon Heights wants you to know.
As you get older, you may be thinking more about your health. Your body changes as you get older, along with your health. You may develop medical conditions often associated with age. One of these conditions is osteoporosis, caused by a greater rate of bone loss than bone formation in the body leading to a decrease in bone mass or density.
Dr. Mark Fisher in Haddon Heights wants to share the facts about osteoporosis. He proudly serves the residents of Haddon Heights, and all of South Jersey, Hammonton, and Camden County, NJ, and he can help you too. He is a Board certified Rheumatologist by the American Board of Internal Medicine.
Osteoporosis can be very subtle and appear with no signs or symptoms that you are losing bone mass until you have osteoporosis. There are a few signs and symptoms you may recognize, including:
- A stooped posture and inability to stand up straight
- A loss of 2 or more inches in height over the years
- Back and spine pain caused by collapsed vertebra due to fractures and these can be painless in 30% of patients.
- A DEXA or bone density scan is the best study to detect this condition
Your bones will also fracture more easily. Typical fracture sites include the spine especially the mid-back area, hips, shoulders, ankles, and wrists. Symptoms only occur when there is an active fracture and is otherwise a silent disease making recognition more challenging. Awareness is the key.
There is increased risk of developing osteoporosis in women, older age groups, white more than non-white races, Asian descent, small body frame less than 127 pounds, early menopause, or have a family history of osteoporosis or fractures. Increased alcohol and caffeine intake and unstable gait or balance are other risks factors for osteoporosis and fractures.
Menopause often initiates the onset of osteoporosis because lowered levels of hormones in women begin to accelerate bone loss. Excessive thyroid and parathyroid hormone states can also cause loss of bone at elevated levels. Other medical conditions can also increase bone loss and increase fracture risk in patients, especially those requiring steroids for various conditions.
There are many steps you can take to try to prevent or minimize bone loss and the effects of osteoporosis by changing your diet and doing resistive exercise. Your diet should include adequate amounts of:
- Protein from various sources including lean meats, soy, nuts, and legumes
- Calcium with at least 600 to 1200 mg. from various sources including low-fat dairy, green vegetables, soy, or canned salmon or sardines
- Vitamin D3 with at least 1000 IU from various sources including sunlight and oral supplements
You should also take steps to get adequate exercise to keep your bones strong. Great exercises to prevent osteoporosis include strength training, weight-bearing and balancing exercises.
For more detailed information about osteoporosis please visit the Osteoporosis page on Dr. Fisher’s website and blogs at http://www.markfishermd.com/osteoporosis.html
If you notice some of the signs and symptoms of osteoporosis, it’s time to visit an expert. Call Dr. Mark Fisher in Haddon Heights, NJ, serving the residents of Haddon Heights, Hammonton, and Camden County, and all of South Jersey. Awareness and early recognition are the best ways to intervene and treat early and have a successful management of this disease.
Call today! 856-547-8004
Managing your psoriasis can be difficult, particularly during painful flare-ups. It is a chronic condition that cannot be cured, but several highly effective treatments are available for minimizing and soothing the symptoms of a psoriasis flare-up. Moderate to severe cases of psoriasis can benefit from treatment with biologics, which suppress overactive immune systems. Psoriasis is caused, in part, by an overactive immune system. Dr. Mark Fisher is your Rheumatologist for treatment of psoriasis in the South Jersey area.
Types of Psoriasis
Psoriasis is associated with red patches, white scales, and flaky areas on the skin. The condition is the result of an accelerated growth cycle of skin cells. New skin cells mature so quickly that the body is unable to shed them before new skin cells are produced. As skin cells begin to build up, red patches, white scales, and flakiness develop. When psoriasis flares up, it tends to affect the skin on the elbows, knees, legs and back most often, but can appear anywhere on the body. There are five types of psoriasis:
- Plaque Psoriasis
- Inverse Psoriasis
- Pustular Psoriasis
- Guttate Psoriasis
- Erythrodermic Psoriasis
Biologic Treatments for Psoriasis
There are a number of treatments for psoriasis, including topical ointments, light therapy, and oral medications. These methods are good for treating mild to moderate cases of psoriasis and may have very limited success. However, a stronger treatment method is needed for moderate to severe cases of psoriasis. Your Rheumatologist for treatment of psoriasis in Haddon Heights can recommend the best option for treating your psoriasis.
Biologic drugs, also referred to as biologics, are one of the most effective treatments for more serious cases of psoriasis.
Biologics are administered by injection, either intravenously or
subcutaneously, and work by modifying the immune system, which is often overactive in patients struggling with psoriasis. These monoclonal antibodies are directed against specific inflammatory proteins causing inflammation and are the most effective treatments for psoriasis management.
In addition, this severe inflammatory skin disease can be associated with severe arthritis as well, and all of these symptoms can be very well controlled with such medications.
The main risk for these medications is infection and the use of preventive care with vaccines can be very useful in reducing such risks.
It can be very uncomfortable and socially inhibiting when your psoriasis flares up. Your Rheumatologist can prescribe the best course of treatment for managing your psoriasis. Biologics offer extended relief for individuals with moderate to severe cases of psoriasis. The benefits and results of treatment can be very dramatic medically, personally, and socially.
For treatment of psoriasis in South Jersey, schedule an appointment with Dr. Fisher by calling the office at (856) 547-8004.
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