Rheumatoid arthritis, which is also known as RA, usually affects the smaller joints in the feet and hands. It is a chronic disorder that causes painful inflammation in the affect area. RA can cause both joint deformities as well as erosion of bones. Those who suffer from this disease process often seek help from pain management doctors.
Rheumatoid arthritis happens when the body’s immune system begins to attack body tissue which it should not be doing. This is known as an autoimmune disorder. RA can also affect other parts of the body such as the lungs, skin, blood vessels, and eyes. As one might imagine, it can become a serious health problem.
Many people believe that RA only occurs in the elderly. This is not true; it can occur at any age, but is most often seen in those over 40. Women are more at-risk than men. Pain management doctors treat this disorder with certain medications that can help control symptoms as well as helping to prevent further damage to joints.
RA Signs and Symptoms Include:
Joint stiffness in the morning
Swollen joints that are warm to the touch and sensitive
Nodules under the skin of the arms
Weight loss, fever, and fatigue
Most pain management doctors who work with RA patients agree that in the early stages RA affects small joints such as those found in the fingers and toes. As RA progresses, it can begin to affect other areas such as hips, knees, shoulders, elbows and ankles. Generally, symptoms will appear on both sides of the patient’s body and in the same joints.
Pain management doctors also agree that the symptoms of RA may come and go. In some cases, over time, deformity of the affected joint may occur. At present, doctors are not entirely sure what actually triggers the process.
There are certain risk factors that may make a person more susceptible to rheumatoid arthritis. These include:
Gender: Females develop RA more so than men
Family: Those who have family members with RA seem to be more at-risk
Age: Usually occurs in those over the age of 40, but can occur at any age
Rheumatoid arthritis can also increase a person’s chances of having other health problems. These include the added risk of developing osteoporosis, developing carpal tunnel syndrome if the RA affects the person’s wrists; heart problems can develop if the arteries become hard or blocked or if the sac surrounding the heart becomes inflamed; and lung disease is also possible if lung tissue becomes scarred.
The good news is pain management doctors have made great strides in helping people deal with their RA symptoms. It should be noted, however, the best medical course of action takes place when the patient sees a doctor early on. If you believe you may have RA, or be in the process of developing it, seek out medical advice as soon as possible. The earlier you begin treatment the more successful your treatment may be in the long run.