Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment Can Restore Your Comfort
If you notice that the joints in your hands or feet have become tender, red, swollen, and warm to the touch, you may be suffering from the beginning stages of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This potentially debilitating condition cannot be cured but its symptoms can be managed, especially with early intervention. Dr. Gregg A. Vagner, an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in injuries and other conditions of the hand, wrist, and elbow, can help patients throughout the Austin, TX, area find relief. Dr. Vagner will combine the latest research and advanced techniques with sound, evidence-based medicine to treat your symptoms and restore your comfort and health.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
RA is a chronic, inflammatory autoimmune disease. The exact cause is unknown but it results in the body's immune system attacking the soft tissue within the joints.
About 1.5 million people suffer from RA in the U.S. It is more likely to affect women and those over the age of 40. Smokers, overweight individuals, and those who have a family history of RA are also at greater risk of developing the condition.
This type of arthritis is characterized by inflammation in more than one joint that persists for a number of weeks. Patients complain of joints that are painful and stiff, swollen, red, and warm to the touch. They may also experience a low-grade fever, loss of appetite, and fatigue. Typically, the same joints on both sides of the body are affected. The symptoms tend to vary in severity as the disease repeatedly flares and then subsides over time.
RA is a chronic and debilitating inflammatory disease that can cause irreversible damage. Early diagnosis and aggressive treatment are key.
RA generally starts in the smaller joints, such as the fingers and toes, before progressing to the wrists, ankles, knees, elbows, hips, and shoulders. In nearly half of sufferers, it eventually affects other parts of the body besides the joints. These include the skin, eyes, organs, blood vessels, and nerve tissue.
RA is a chronic and debilitating inflammatory disease that can cause irreversible damage to the joints and affect many other areas of the body. It can also put the patient at risk of developing other diseases and conditions, such as infections, osteoporosis, and heart and lung problems. Consequently, early diagnosis and aggressive treatment are key. The cause of RA is unknown and there is no cure for it. However, once it is diagnosed, proper treatment can help control the symptoms.
Dr. Vagner will first confirm a diagnosis based on a physical exam and evaluation of the patient's complaints and medical history. He may also order lab tests, x-rays, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.
Treatment Can Provide Relief
The treatment of RA is designed to reduce inflammation. This, in turn, should relieve associated symptoms and decrease damage to affected organs and tissue throughout the body.
Both steroidal and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are effective in treating RA. Another class of drugs, known as DMARDs (disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs) can also help slow disease progression. Physical therapy can also be useful in helping the patient to regain movement and muscle strength. If the damage is severe enough, Dr. Vagner may recommend surgical intervention to repair a joint that has compromised mobility or function.