Seek a rheumatologist to successfully diagnose and manage your arthritis symptoms if this has eluded your primary care provider.
More than 54 million adults have been diagnosed with various arthritis conditions. These diseases can cause inflammation of the joints. They can occur in both men and women of all ages. Children can develop arthritis as early as infancy. Whether you have already been diagnosed with arthritis, need further management, or you are looking for a physician who can provide you with specialized care, our South Jersey Rheumatologist Mark Fisher MD FACR can help.
What are the warning signs of arthritis?
The symptoms you experience depend on the type of arthritis. There are over 100 different kinds of arthritis. The most common types and their symptoms include:
This affects the knees, hips, feet, and spine most commonly, and can also involve other joints as well. Symptoms may include:
- Stiffness, briefly in the morning or after resting (called gelling)
- Aching pain
- Pain with prolonged activity
- Difficulty with daily activities such as brushing your hair or climbing stairs, getting in and out of a chair or bed, and others
- The affected joints may experience swelling or be warm to the touch.
RA can cause severe joint damage if left untreated. Symptoms may be gradual or may come about suddenly. The most common symptoms include joint pain, swelling, and prolonged morning stiffness. often more than 1 hour, and involve multiple joints in a symmetrical distribution. Small joints such as the hands and feet are commonly affected. Sometimes lumps or nodules over the elbows and other sites can occur. This has the tendency of being more aggressive and needs early recognition and intervention for the best results and response to treatment.
This type of arthritis can be associated with both the skin with psoriasis involvement, and the joints. As a result, you may develop raised, scaly, flaky patches on your skin. They often appear on the scalp, knees, elbows, and even the genital area, and can affect the entire body in more severe cases. Along with these scaly patches, you may also develop swelling and joint pain in small and large joints similar to RA but usually not as symmetrical. This can be a very aggressive arthritis if not treated early.
This severe, acute, abrupt onset of joint pain develops in the foot (often the big toe) as the earliest joint involved, but may affect others such as the ankle and instep of the foot, knee, elbow and wrist. This arthritis conditon can result from an excessive accumulation of uric acid crystals in the joint and is often related to a genetic abnormality and the use of some medications. The attack often comes on suddenly, and results in severe joint pain, inflammation, redness, and stiffness. As with other arthritic conditions, gout can evolve into a chronic damaging condition affecting many joints, and causing disabling problems. Large nodular swellings called tophi, collections of uric acid, can develop in areas such as the elbows.
This autoimmune disorder can involve the joints as part of these sydromes, and also cause a variety of other symptoms such as:
Joint pain and swelling
- Swelling of the feet, hands, and legs
- Mouth or nasal sores
- Sensitivity to the sun and cold temperatures
- Hair loss
- Chest pain
What are my treatment options?
While there is no cure for any of these ailments, make no mistake about it. There ARE very effective and successful treatments your physican and Rheumatologist can offer you, especially if seen early. Remember it is never too late to start treatment successfully for these different rheumatic conditions. Early recogntion, diagnosis, and treatment are key!
Our South Jersey Rheumatologist Mark Fisher MD FACR may recommend one or more different types of treatments appropriate for the type and severity of your arthritis condition. These specific advances in treatments will be covered in another blog on recognizing and managing the varied rheumatic, arthritis, and autoimmune disorders that your Rheumatologist can offer for successful care and maintaining an active and successful life.
Are you dealing with symptoms of arthritis in the South Jersey community and in need of further assessment and successful care?
If so, it is important to consider a Rheumatologist as soon as possible.
Contact Mark Fisher MD FACR today to schedule your consultation.
Call (856) 547-8004.
Are you dealing with frequent headaches and changes in your vision?
Giant-cell arteritis (GCA), also known as temporal arteritis, is an inflammatory condition that affects the blood vessels (e.g. temporal artery and others) resulting in headaches, and pain in the temporal areas, as well as vision changes, jaw pain, and flu-like symptoms. GCA may also be accompanied by polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR), which causes sudden muscle pain and stiffness in certain areas of the body (often the shoulders and neck). GCA is an urgent problem and must be evaluated and treated immediately!
Fortunately, if you suspect that you might have giant cell arteritis our Haddon Heights, NJ, Board Certified Rheumatologist Mark Fisher MD FACR is here to help.
How will I know that I have giant cell arteritis?
As we mentioned above, the most common symptoms of GCA are headaches, shoulder pain, jaw pain, and blurred or lost vision. Some people will also experience scalp soreness, throat pain, depression or a persistent cough. While not common, some people can go blind if they don’t seek treatment for their symptoms immediately.
What causes giant cell arteritis?
Unfortunately, not much is known about the cause of this condition. We do know that aging does play a role and that the immune system does attack the arteries, leading to inflammation; It is still not clear why these attacks happen and who is more likely to develop this condition.
How is giant cell arteritis diagnosed?
The only way to diagnose giant cell arteritis is to biopsy a part of the temporal artery, which is found near the scalp. The biopsy procedure is minor, under local anesthesia as an outpatient, and causes minor discomfort. Of course, our Haddon Height, NJ, rheumatology doctor will recommend getting blood tests to check for the inflammation with an elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate(ESR) and C reactive protein level and other testing as appropriate.
What are my treatment options if I do have giant cell arteritis?
The gold standard for treating giant cell arteritis is with corticosteroids, and this oral medication should be administered promptly to try and prevent serious complications such as blindness. Most patients experience an improvement in their symptoms after just a short time of taking steroids. Of course, there are significant risks for complications possible with the high dose steroids required here, but the benefits certainly do warrant such interventions. Such options and risks can be discussed with your Rheumatologist.
If you are in the South Jersey community and dealing with any musculoskeletal problems or autoimmune disorders such as GCA or others, chances are good that you are looking for a doctor that you trust to provide you with customized and compassionate care. If so, call our office today to schedule a consultation with Board Certified Rheumatologist Mark Fisher MD FACR at 856-547-8004.
Are You Dealing with Gout?
Find out if that severe pain in your big toe( or other joints) could be caused by gouty arthritis.
Gout, a specific type of arthritis that most frequently affects the big toe, is sometimes called the “disease of kings” because it has often been connected with being a glutton for rich and plentiful foods and alcohol. However, you don’t have to be a king (or live like one) in order to develop gout. From the office of our Haddon Heights, NJ, Board Certified Rheumatologist Mark Fisher MD FACR, find out more about gout, its symptoms and how to manage painful flare-ups and most importantly reduce the risk of damaging destructive arthritis and other organ damage as well.
What are the symptoms of gout?
Gout attacks are sudden and usually severe, leading to redness, inflammation and tenderness of the joints. Usually the joints of the big toe are most frequently affected and are the earliest joints impacted by this genetically related disease of the joints. It may feel as if your toe is on fire. Gout pain can be so bad that they can wake you up in the middle of the night and such attacks typically start abruptly, going bed feeling well and awakening unable to bear the pain from this tender swollen joint. Sometimes large nodules or lumps called tophi can develop and these are hard collections of uric acid.
What causes gout?
An excess of uric acid in the body results in the development of uric acid crystals in the joints.
Mostly, this is genetically related. Certain medications or diets can also increase the amount of uric acid in your body, which can lead to a flare-up. Some of these medications and foods include,
· Red meat
· Excess alcohol
· Sugary foods and drinks
Men are more likely than women to develop gout, and those with kidney disease are also at an increased risk of gout. Those who are obese or have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes are also at an increased risk. Dehydration and severe dieting can trigger such attacks.
How is gout treated?
The goal of treatment is to reduce flare-ups and to help you manage your symptoms more effectively. Gout is typically treated with a medication to reduce the acute pain and inflammation such as NSAIDS, anti-inflammatories, if it safe for a patient to take these.
Once the episode has resolved, preventive therapy is instituted to reduce the level of uric acid in the body.
Sometimes an injection into the joint with steroids is needed to reduce the inflammation if oral medications are not possible. Our Haddon Heights, NJ, Rheumatology Physician, Dr. Mark Fisher, will talk to you about your treatment options for managing gout flare-ups.
Lifestyle modifications are also an important part of treating gout. Avoid foods and drinks that contain sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, as well as alcohol, shellfish and red meat. Eating a gout-friendly diet can be helpful in managing flares, but the most potent treatments would be medications to reduce the uric acid levels.
Gout can be well managed today with the available treatments and severe joint damage, cardiac and renal effects of this ailment can be prevented.
If you are dealing with any of the symptoms above and living in the South Jersey community, feel free to call and please contact our Board Certified Rheumatologist Mark Fisher MD FACR as soon as possible for care. Call our office today and let us know that you are experiencing symptoms associated with possible gout.
Find out how to reduce psoriasis flare-ups and improve moments of remission.
If you are dealing with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis, it is important that you have a trusted physician in your corner. It’s the best way to get the care you deserve. Our Haddon Heights, NJ, Board Certified Rheumatologist Mark Fisher, MD FACR, provides patients with comprehensive psoriasis treatments to improve their symptoms. He can work with your current primary physician and dermatologist to create an effective treatment plan.
Even though psoriasis isn’t curable, it can be well managed with the current state of the art treatments available in 2020. There are many choices when it comes to treating your overall symptoms. You may choose topical or oral medications initially, or light therapy. However, if your symptoms are persistent or haven’t been responding to such treatments, it is time to talk to our Haddon Heights, NJ, Rheumatologist about finding relief through biologics.
Biologics for Treating Psoriasis
A biologic, also known as immunomodulatory therapy and monoclonal antibodies, are drugs that are administered as an injection subcutaneously or through an IV. Instead of affecting the whole immune system, it targets the part of the immune system that causes skin inflammation. It alleviates symptoms and may even prevent further damage to the joints. There are ever increasing numbers of agents that have become available to treat moderate-to-severe psoriasis and also psoriatic arthritis. Working on different aspects of the immune system causing this inflammation gives patients many more options for successful results.
Biologics are the best course of action for severe psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis. There are some potential side effects associated with biologics due to their relationship with the immune system. Dr. Mark Fisher will go over the advantages and disadvantages of this form of therapy with you.
If you are dealing with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis in the South Jersey community, and you are looking for a Rheumatologist you can trust, call our office today to schedule your consultation with Board Certified Rheumatologist Mark Fisher, MD FACR. Contact our office at (856) 547-8004.
Are you an older adult who is dealing with muscle pain and stiffness? It could be polymyalgia rheumatica.
Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) is an inflammatory condition that results in stiffness and aching pain in the muscles of the shoulders, neck, lower back, upper arms and thighs. Symptoms usually appear suddenly and are at their worst in the morning. PMR most commonly affects people over the age of 65 and rarely occurs in people under the age of 50. Wondering if you might have polymyalgia? From the office of our Board Certified Rheumatologist Mark Fisher MD FACR in Haddon Heights, NJ, learn more about the telltale signs of polymyalgia and when to seek care.
Symptoms of PMR
The classic symptoms of PMR are achiness, stiffness, and pain, predominantly found in the proximal muscles of the neck, shoulders, arms, buttocks, hips and thighs. Along with pain, you may notice stiffness that is worse in the morning or with inactivity, as well as a limited range of motion in the affected areas.
It’s also possible that your pain and discomfort may be accompanied by a low-grade fever, fatigue, unexpected weight loss and decreased appetite. The pain and feeling of weakness can be profound in some patients.
Seeing a Doctor
It’s very important to schedule an evaluation with our Rheumatology doctor in Haddon Heights, NJ, if you are dealing with pain, stiffness or other symptoms that are new, affect your daily routine or make it difficult to sleep.
Along with a physical examination, Dr. Fisher may also recommend certain blood or imaging tests that could detect inflammation and determine whether it’s polymyalgia or another rheumatic condition that is causing your pain. Some people with PMR can develop an inflammatory condition and further complication of this condition called giant cell arteritis (GCA). This GCA disease can cause blurry vision or blindness, jaw pain, and chronic headaches, it’s important that you have a doctor you can turn to in order to manage your symptoms.
Treatment is imperative for these conditions to reduce the risks from them. Common treatment options for PMR include.
- Corticosteroids are the primary treatments used and are very effective, and of course many medical risks from such medications must be recognized.
- Vitamin D
- Methotrexate (an immune-suppressing medication) in some patients
- Physical therapy if indicated
Are you dealing with sudden muscle pain and stiffness as described above? If you are concerned that you might have PMR then call our Board Certified Rheumatologist Mark Fisher, MD FACR in the South Jersey community, today at 856-547-8004, to find out what he can do to help. Remember it is very important to recognize and treat such conditions promptly!!
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