Are you familiar with all of the symptoms rheumatoid arthritis can cause? Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis can affect nearly every 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
- 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.