Arthritis is a type of musculoskeletal disorder that destroys the joints, bones, muscles, cartilage, and other connective tissue. Rheumatoid arthritis is a specific form of arthritis that typically affects the hands and feet. An autoimmune disorder, it happens when the immune system attacks the body’s own tissue. Along with the joints, this can also affect other parts of the body including the skin, eyes, lungs, and blood vessels.
While this rheumatological condition can appear at any age, those over 40 have a much higher risk. Women are also more susceptible than men. If you think you might have rheumatoid arthritis, contact a specialist, such as Dr. Susan Baker in Los Angeles at (310) 274-7770.
Common Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis most commonly affects the joints, but each person with the disorder can react differently. It also is active at times and inactive at others, meaning the symptoms can come and go. When rheumatoid arthritis is active, common symptoms include :
- Tender, swollen joints
- Morning stiffness
- Bumps under the skin on the arms
- Weight loss
Rheumatoid arthritis results from the immune system attacking the lining of the membranes that surround the joints. This inflammation leads to destruction of the cartilage and bone within the joint. Currently, the root cause remains unknown. However, many medical professionals suspect that a genetic component may make people more likely to develop the condition.
Along with inflammation and breakdown of cartilage and bone, this condition can increase your risk for a number of other problems, including osteoporosis, carpal tunnel syndrome, heart problems, and lung disease.
While there is no cure for this musculoskeletal disorder, the symptoms can be treated in a number of ways. Physical therapy can be used to help keep the joints flexible. Medication is also one of the leading ways to ease the symptoms. Some of the most commonly prescribed medications include :
- TNF-alpha inhibitors
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs
Surgery is another common treatment option. This is especially prevalent in cases where the joints have been damaged. Total joint replacement surgery replaces the damaged parts of the joint with prostheses. Tendon repair surgery fixes the damaged tendons, while joint fusion is done to stabilize or realign a damaged joint.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How does diet affect my musculoskeletal disorder?
A: For some, diet does have an affect on this disorder. If you think you are one of these people, try keeping a food journal to determine what foods coincide with flare-ups. Then eliminate those foods from your diet.
Q: What tests can be done to check?
A: In addition to an examination, your doctor may also run blood tests and X-rays to determine whether you have rheumatoid arthritis or not.
Q: How does this affect pregnancy?
A: Fortunately, this does not affect pregnancy and often goes into remission during this time. Some of the medications, however, can be bad for pregnant women, so be sure to check with your doctor.
Q: What is an arthritis flare and what can I do to control it?
A: The term “flare” refers to an increase in symptoms. Rheumatoid arthritis will sometimes be inactive, but when it becomes active, we call that a flare. The best way to control your flares is to create a detailed treatment plan with your doctor.
For more information, visit cdc.gov
Contact an Arthritis Specialist Today!
Are you suffering from the pain of swollen, tender joints? Do you experience fever, fatigue, and stiffness? Contact Dr. Susan Baker today. She is board certified in both rheumatology and internal medicine and has won a variety of awards including the “Patient’s Choice Award” and the “Most Compassionate Doctor” award. Call today at (310) 274-7770 or fill out the online contact form to set up an appointment at our Los Angeles office.
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