Find out more about this inflammatory autoimmune disease and how to treat it.
Have you or a loved one recently been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis? If so, then chances are good that you are looking for more information about this condition and the treatment options available to you to reduce your painful symptoms, reduced your risks for joint damage, and preserve your overall functioning. Our Haddon Heights, NJ, Rheumatologist, Dr. Mark Fisher, is here to answer all of your questions about rheumatoid arthritis so you can understand more about this chronic condition and what you can do about it.
What is rheumatoid arthritis (RA)?
This chronic condition is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the joints of the body. This can lead to a thickening of the tissue around the joint known as synovitis. This thickening leads to widespread pain and swelling and potential damage to the joints. Joint deformity and malfunction can result and a disabling, progressive arthritis affecting multiple joints in a symmetrical fashion ensues.
If RA is left untreated, it can cause permanent damage to the joints, tissue and cartilage, which is why it’s so important to visit our Haddon Heights rheumatoid arthritis doctor right away for an early diagnosis. The sooner we can start treatment the better. Early diagnosis and management is always the key to the best success!!
What are the symptoms?
Those with RA will experience a variety of different joint-related symptoms including,
- Swelling, stiffness and joint pain (lasting longer than six weeks).
- Prolonged morning stiffness more than 1-3 hours distinguishes RA from the usual arthritis we may experience with age known as osteoarthritis.
- Widespread joint discomfort, usually in a symmetrical distribution
- Pain and swelling within smaller joints
- (e.g. joints within the hands or feet) and also can include larger joints ( e.g. shoulders, hips, and knees)
Along with joint pain, swelling, and inflammation, those with RA may also have a lack of an appetite, weight loss, chronic lethargy, fever, lumps or nodules over the elbows and other areas. RA symptoms may flare-up and is characterized by such exacerbations of pain and swelling of joints, and can last several months; however, this also means that there are periods of lesser activity of symptoms where you might experience fewer symptoms.
Since RA is an autoimmune disorder it can affect everything from the eyes and skin to the lungs and even the blood.Patients with such a disorder can also have higher risks for internal problems such as cancer, cardiovascular complications, anemia, and other medical problems.
How is RA treated?
While RA cannot be cured, but there is a very effective treatment for it. The inflammation and pain can be managed and complications (e.g. joint damage and other risks) can be greatly reduced through early diagnosis and with the proper medication. Common RA medications include,
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (to reduce pain and inflammation)
- Corticosteroids (to manage severe inflammation flares
- Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) such as methotrexate, antimalarials, sulfasalazine
- Biologic monoclonal antibodies and these have made phenomenal changes in the course of this illness for many and life-changing impact on patients' lives and functionality
During your visit, we will discuss which medications will help your symptoms and offer the best overall plan to maintain your function and joint protection with the least risks.
If you are looking for a Rheumatologist in Haddon Heights, NJ, who can help your RA symptoms and to improve your quality of life, then look no further than our very own Dr. Fisher. Our compassionate, caring team is here to help you every step of the way, so you can enjoy what really matters in life.