My Blog
By Jeffrey Alper, M.D., PA
May 13, 2020
Category: Health Condition
Tags: Rheumatologist  

If you have stiffer than usual and aching joints that persist even with ample rest and home treatments and are negatively affecting your daily life, our rheumatologists (AOP) or arthritis doctors in our Naples, FL, office, Dr. Jeffrey Alper or Dr. Alain Alvarez can help. They can diagnose, treat, and manage rheumatic disease and arthritis pain.

What are Rheumatic Diseases?

Rheumatic Diseases are inflammatory and autoimmune conditions that cause your immune system to attack your muscles, joints, organs, and bones. They are typically grouped under the umbrella term arthritis, utilized for describing more than 100 conditions and diseases.

This includes the most common arthritis type called osteoarthritis, which results in the cartilage that cushions the joint bones to wear away. When this occurs, the synovial membrane responsible for safeguarding and lubricating the joints become inflamed and causes swelling and pain. Joint erosion then follows as a result of joints’ cartilage and bone breaking down.

The most crucial thing to keep in mind when it comes to rheumatic diseases is that significant damage to organs could occur, including the heart, lungs, eyes, skin, kidneys, and nervous system. Likewise, they could progress into conditions that are so severe that individuals suffering from them may find themselves unable to dress or bathe themselves. In addition, even the simplest tasks like walking or just getting up could cause severe pain and make the task more difficult, if not impossible.

When to Go to a Rheumatologist?

Almost everyone will experience joint and muscle pain at some point in their lives. When your symptoms don’t resolve on their own, however, you may need to be evaluated by your arthritis doctor or rheumatologist (AOP) in Naples, FL. If you’ve been experiencing arthritis pain from rheumatoid arthritis, whether or not you have an official diagnosis for it, and you’ve tried home treatments to no avail, it’s best to see your rheumatologist for a professional evaluation and effective treatment options.

If you have a history of autoimmune or rheumatic diseases in the family and/or if your symptoms are getting worse in just a short amount of time, you should also visit your rheumatologist for a checkup. Take note that permanent joint damage could occur if you ignore your symptoms and fail to treat them effectively. Don’t delay a professional assessment and proper treatment.

For More Details on Rheumatic Diseases and their Treatment Options, Call Us

Schedule an appointment with our rheumatologist, Dr. Jeffrey Alper or Dr. Alain Alvarez, here in our Naples, FL, practice by dialing (239) 262-6550.

For the past six months, your hands and feet have ached and ached. Now your wrists hurt. Could this be rheumatoid arthritis? In Naples, FL, Dr. Jeffrey Alper and Dr. Alain Alvarez are your board-certified rheumatologists, and they can tell you for sure what the source of your problem is. If you do have RA, they'll help you live with this manageable disease.

What is rheumatoid arthritis?

Also called RA, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that affects 1.5 million Americans, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Characterized by aching, tender, and warm joints, and eventually, joint deformity, RA targets more women than men and those who are middle-aged or older.

Besides pain, RA is marked by fever, fatigue, and weight loss, says the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Inflammation spreads throughout the body and may damage the skin and eyes. Accordingly, rheumatoid arthritis sufferers need to get ahead of their disease.

Early diagnosis, intervention, and treatment work wonders. Dr. Alper and Dr. Alvarez help patients avoid tendon repair, joint fusion, and joint replacement surgeries that some arthritis patients need.

At the Naples office, you'll be evaluated for rheumatoid with a simple physical exam, digital imaging and special blood tests. Your doctor will work with you to control RA flare-ups and to help you develop healthy lifestyle habits that can suppress inflammation. In short, you can function well and feel better with their support.

Common recommendations for rheumatoid arthritis

Dr. Alper and Dr. Alvarez often advise many of the following interventions to manage RA:

  1. Exercise (walking and swimming are effective and gentle on joints)
  2. Maintaining a healthy weight (this goes hand-in-hand with a nutritious diet)
  3. Smoking cessation
  4. Stress reduction through relaxation techniques and massage therapy
  5. Heat for stiff muscles and cold for painful joints
  6. Topical pain control gels, creams, and patches

Additionally, many RA patients benefit from over the counter ibuprofen, DRARDS (disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs), and biologic response modifiers. Fortunately, Dr. Alper's and Dr. Alvarez's expertise is cutting edge. They have keen insights garnered from years of arthritis research.

Take charge

Rheumatoid arthritis does not have to define you. Manage your symptoms with the help of Naples' own board-certified rheumatologists, Dr. Jeffrey Alper and Dr. Alain Alvarez. Call the main office in Naples for a consultation: (239) 262-6550.

By Jeffrey Alper, M.D., PA
February 20, 2020
Category: Health Condition

Do you have rheumatoid arthritis? You are not alone. This inflammatory autoimmune condition affects millions of Americans. In Naples, Dr. Jeffrey Alper and Dr. Alain Alvarez are board-certified rheumatologists who diagnose and treat the many aspects of RA. Let them help you with the best treatment options optimized for function, pain relief, and overall well-being.

Symptoms of RA

Different from the wear and tear damage of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis impacts the hands and feet. It inflames the cells which line the joints, causing pain, limited mobility, bilateral and symmetrical swelling, fatigue, and joint deformities. Besides the physical problems, RA is known for increasing stress, malaise, and depression as symptoms worsen. RA is auto-immune, which means the body's very own immune defenses attack the joints. Talk to the Rheumatoid Arthritis Naples, FL, professionals right away if you experience any of these.

Do you have RA?

Consult with Dr. Alper or Dr. Alvarez about your rheumatoid arthritis symptoms in their Naples office. If your symptoms persist for six weeks or longer, you likely have RA rather than another kind of arthritis or other joint issues. In addition, RA appears to run in families. So if you have a close relative, such as a mother or a sister with RA, you are more likely to share this diagnosis with them.

Blood testing usually reveals RF, the Rheumatoid Factor, along with other characteristic proteins and antibodies. Many RA patients are anemic as well. The Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Network explains that the Rheumatoid Factor shows up in about 80 percent of RA patients.

Treatment options

Your care plan is personalized to your needs, overall health, and other important factors. However, most patients pursue similar goals, such as:

  • Limitation of joint damage
  • Maintenance of range-of-motion
  • Improving daily well-being and function
  • Reduction of pain and joint stiffness

As such, you likely will be prescribed some analgesics or NSAIDs to control pain and reduce inflammation. Oral corticosteroids are an option too, but they have unwanted side effects with long-term use. DMARDs (disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs) limit the autoimmune response. Methotrexate and Gold compounds are the most common DMARDs.

In addition, biologic response modifiers, or biologics, block the body's T-cells which attack the joints. Humira is a well-known biologic. Talk to the Rheumatoid Arthritis Naples professionals about different medications. 

Besides medications, your physician will recommend a program of exercise and physical therapy that improves mobility and strength. Some patients pursue chiropractic care. Surgeries such as tendon repair or joint replacement are last resorts but help selected patients to move and stay active, states the Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Network.

For the best Rheumatoid Arthritis Naples treatment

Call Dr. Jeffrey Alper and Dr. Alain Alvarez. Their kindly, expert care will help you manage your rheumatoid arthritis so you live as well as possible. Contact us at our Naples or Bonita Springs locations. Call (239) 262-6550 today. 

By Jeffrey Alper, M.D., PA
August 12, 2019
Category: Health Condition
Tags: Arthritis  

Chronic pain from arthritis. You live with it, along with the dysfunction it can cause. Fortunately, board-certified rheumatologist Dr. Jeffrey Alper and Dr. Alain Alvarez, offer hope to their Naples area patients with proven plans to manage arthritis pain. The goal is your fullest life possible.

What causes arthritis pain?

Inflammation, wear and tear or a disease process breaks down connective tissue. These are the causes of arthritis pain. Typically, these factors originate in the aging process, heredity, injury (either repetitive or impact), and continual stress and overworking of muscle groups.

Plus, your body type and lifestyle choices degrade joints and change your level of pain. If you are overweight, tend to be sedentary or smoke, you likely will suffer more intense and widespread arthritis pain.

Getting help for your arthritis pain in Naples

Both Dr. Alper and Dr. Alvarez are board-certified rheumatologists, experts in the pathophysiology and management of arthritis. Despite its tremendous advancement and spotlight position in health news, joint replacement is not the first line of defense against the stiffness, redness, tenderness, and limited mobility associated with arthritis. Instead, these expert physicians offer less invasive, but effective, interventions.

When you come to the office for an evaluation, your rheumatologist will review your health history, medications and any recent diagnostic tests. Also, he'll discuss your symptoms. From there, he may order lab work or other tests to understand your arthritis pain and its triggers.

The care plan

It's as individualized as you and your arthritis are. It may include a combination of treatments such as:

  • NSAIDS (anti-inflammatory medications in pill form)
  • Lidocaine injections directed into inflamed muscle bundles (trigger points)
  • Physical therapy and a program of daily stretching and strengthening exercises
  • Application of cold to reduce swelling
  • Application of heat (especially hot showers or baths) to increase circulation
  • Braces and orthoses (shoe inserts to modify gait and cushion and protect the feet)
  • Corticosteroid injections to decrease swelling

Manage it and live well

Together you and your Naples, FL, rheumatologist can manage your arthritis pain and increase your overall well-being. For more information on arthritis or to arrange a consultation with Dr. Alper or Dr. Alvarez, please call the office at (239) 262-6550.

By Jeffrey Alper, M.D., PA
June 18, 2019
Category: Health Condition

Are you familiar with all of the symptoms rheumatoid arthritis can cause? Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis can affect nearly everyArthritis part of your body, causing pain, general discomfort, fatigue, and more. Fortunately, your Naples, FL, rheumatologists, Drs. Jeffrey Alper and Alain Alvarez, offer treatments that can help relieve your arthritis pain.

 

What is rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that affects three times as many women as men, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Your body's immune system keeps you healthy by attacking bacteria and viruses as soon as they enter your body. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, your immune system mistakenly targets perfectly harmless cells, causing inflammation in your joints and throughout your body.

 

What parts of the body are affected by rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis may affect any joint but typically affects joints in your ankles, knees, hands, feet, elbows, and wrists. Chronic inflammation from the condition destroys cartilage, the flexible tissue that cushions the ends of your bones and helps the joints move smoothly. When the cartilage wears away, your bones rub together painfully.

The disease can also affect the lungs, eyes, mouth, blood, skin, and blood vessels.

 

What are the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis?

If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you may have one or more of these symptoms:

  • Joint pain
  • Stiff or swollen joints
  • Pain, swelling, or stiffness in several joints
  • Noticeably deformed joints
  • Dry mouth
  • Gum disease
  • Fatigue
  • Low-grade fever
  • Dry eyes and other eye symptoms, including light sensitivity, pain, and red eyes
  • Nodules (small lumps) over joints
  • Lung inflammation
  • Inflamed blood vessels
  • Nerve damage

If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you may experience flare-ups of acute symptom activity followed by periods of remission. Lung inflammation, nerve damage, and other symptoms may only occur if you have high levels of inflammation for a long time.

 

How can my Naples rheumatologist help me?

Controlling inflammation is the goal of rheumatoid arthritis treatment. Both over-the-counter and prescription anti-inflammatory medications (like ibuprofen) can reduce pain and inflammation.

Depending on the severity of the disease, you may also benefit from corticosteroid medication to reduce inflammation or disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDS) that slow the progression of the disease. Joint replacement surgery may be recommended if joint damage significantly affects your mobility or interferes with your life.

 

Give us a call!

Don't let arthritis pain take over your life. Call your Naples, FL, rheumatologists, Drs. Jeffrey Alper and Alain Alvarez, at (239) 262-6550 to schedule an appointment.





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