If you have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis then you are no stranger to tender, swollen and stiff joints. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the lining of the joints. This autoimmune disorder can, over time, cause bone deterioration and joint deformities. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect any joints throughout the body and often causes damage to the eyes, heart, lungs and skin.
Those within the early stages of RA often notice that smaller joints are affected, such as the ones in your fingers or toes. As the disorder worsens, these symptoms begin to spread to larger joints in the body. Those with RA experience flare-ups with bouts of remission, where joint swelling and tenderness lessen or go away completely.
If you are noticing chronic pain and swelling in the joints then it’s time to make an appointment with us. We can determine whether your symptoms are due to RA, and also discuss treatment options with you to improve your quality of life. Certain blood and imaging tests will be performed to determine whether RA is the cause of your symptoms.
Treatment Options for Rheumatoid Arthritis
While there is no cure for RA, there are certain treatment options that can help manage your symptoms and lessen your flare-ups. Which medications we recommend will depend on the severity of your symptoms. Common medications include:
- Over-the-counter or prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Corticosteroids (e.g. prednisone)
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
- Biologic response modifiers (a newer form of DMARDs)
Along with drug therapy, we may also recommend regular physical therapy to help improve joint pain, mobility, and range of motion. However, if medications or physical therapy do not prevent or reduce your risk of joint damage then surgery may be necessary to repair these joints. Common surgical treatments include tendon repairs, joint fusion, and joint replacement.
If surgery ends up being the best treatment option for you, we will be happy to sit down and discuss the details of the procedure, as well as the benefits and risks. Taking an active interest in your treatment plan is also important for its success.
Interested in treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis from Jeffrey Alper, M.D., PA?
Call our Naples, FL office at (239) 262-6550 today to learn more!