Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder and a chronic inflammatory disorder. Your immune system usually protects your body and wards off viruses and bacteria, but if you have this condition, your immune system attacks your joints. The result is inflammation and damage to your joints that can lead to bone erosion and joint deformity. Unlike osteoarthritis, where the cartilage in the joints is worn down, rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of the joints. It is more common in women and usually occurs after the age of 40, typically affecting the hands and feet.
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include joint pain that affects the smaller joints at first, but can spread to other joints. There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis and it is a chronic disorder, which means it is continual problem and patients often experience flare-ups where symptoms temporarily get worse. Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis includes relieving pain, reducing inflammation, and medications that can help stop the progression of the disease. If you think you might have rheumatoid arthritis, don’t delay treatment as this can worsen with time or lead to other serious foot problems. Our podiatrists in Palm Beach Gardens and South Florida will provide a diagnosis and discuss a comprehensive treatment plan with you. Call 561-793-6170 to schedule an appointment today.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder where your immune system attacks your joints. Normally your immune system’s function is to ward off viruses and bacteria, but this disorder causes it to behave differently. This abnormal immune response causes this chronic inflammatory disorder with swelling that can damage your joints. Rheumatoid arthritis often starts out affecting the smaller joints of your fingers and toes but can spread to other joints and even damage organs.
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms include redness, pain and swelling of the joints. You may also experience stiffness in the joints, especially in the morning and it may take several hours each day for the stiffness to subside. This can be accompanied by fever, fatigue, and weight loss. The joints may be warmer than other parts of your body and can develop bumps known as rheumatoid nodules. Symptoms may flare up and come and go, but the chronic disease does not completely go away. As rheumatoid arthritis advances, it can cause the joints to become deformed.
Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Since there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, treatment involves relieving symptoms, reducing the swelling, and medications that stop progression of the disease. Part of the treatment process is about learning to live with rheumatoid arthritis and finding which medications work best for you. There are a variety of different medications available and each individual can experience different results, which is why it is necessary to see which medication or combination of medications work best for you.
Diagnosing Rheumatoid Arthritis
What should you expect when visiting South Florida Foot & Ankle Centers for rheumatoid arthritis treatment? Our doctors’ first priority is to address your concerns and make you feel comfortable. All of our foot doctors have extensive training and have a great deal of clinical experience so they are able to give you all of the information that you need to help you make an informed decision, understand the options, and be a part of the treatment plan. Diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis can be done with during a physical examination. X-rays and blood work might be ordered to help the doctor diagnose your condition. You should be prepared to discuss the level of pain, when pain occurs, and how long you have been experiencing discomfort. Your doctor will also need to know about any other diagnoses you have, your lifestyle, and family history.