What you need to know about rheumatoid arthritis

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ST. GEORGE — Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease condition that seems to be on the rise and it can affect anyone regardless of gender, race or age; there are imperative facts you need to know about this condition that is becoming more serious every day.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a health condition that causes repeated swelling of synovial tissues around the joints. According to William Shiel, author and editor of Medicine.Net, RA is an autoimmune illness that can also result when body muscles are wrongly attacked by your own immune system.

The effects of rheumatoid arthritis health condition have greatly impacted many people both socially and economically. This disease has caused suffering and huge economic losses to its victims and their relatives in treatment and management of the condition.

RA is increasingly becoming a common disease that is affecting almost 1 percent of the global population. In the United States, the disease has affected close to 1.3 million people, as revealed by most recent census findings reported by the Arthritis Foundation on arthritis.org. Although the disease can affect anyone regardless of gender, race or age, the statistics reveal it is more common in women than men, with 2 out of 3 victims of the condition likely to be women. However, it has been manifested mostly in people between the ages of 30 and 60 years old.

Because RA is a continuing illness that advances with time, it is necessary to create maximum cognizance so that the health risk can be handled in the best way possible.

Causes

Although it is not clearly established what initiates RA onset, there are a number of most probable causes of this health condition. The major contributing factor of RA illness is anomalous reaction of the immune system against its own body; that is, abnormal or other than as expected.

Genetic composition is yet another probable cause of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Cases of the same family members suffering from RA have provided critical leads to researchers in establishing genetic factor as a potential cause of RA. Consequently, the prevalence of the condition in women more than in men points out that body hormonal composition also determines the probability of suffering from RA condition.

Environmental factors such as pollution and chemicals contamination have also been suspected of causing this joint disease. Exposure to certain bacteria and virus can also initiate RA.

Symptoms

RA symptoms may remain undetected until late stages of the illness. When the condition has advanced, victims may experience painful, soft and swollen joints. This joint problem is commonly replicated in more than one part of the body with the matching joints in both left and right sides of the body being affected.

Apart from joint complications, many RA victims can experience mild fatigue and fever. The symptoms of RA may be occurring with an on-and-off pattern. When the inflammation and pain become intense, they cause a flare situation that may require quick medical attention.

Other symptoms of RA include red eyes, dry mouth, red skin around the joints, limping and inflamed lungs leading to shortness of breath.

Diagnosis

The best specialist to diagnose RA is a rheumatologist. This is a trained medical person who has adequate knowledge and skills in dealing with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

A rheumatologist may follow one or more procedures in making a diagnosis: He may give a set of questions to the victim that can be vital in determining indications of RA. He may inquire about the victim’s medical past that touches on both the patient and their relatives. The rheumatologist can also conduct other tests such as physical examination, blood analysis, imaging scans and antibodies assessment. It is essential to note that one test may not be adequate to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis and therefore specialists should combine a number of tests to arrive at a conclusive diagnosis.

Treatment

If you or someone you know is a victim of rheumatoid arthritis, it is very important to deliberate on various ways of treating this increasing and distressing health condition. Treatment of RA is aimed at achieving various objectives such as stopping inflammation, preventing tissue damage, improving physical performance of the patient and relieving pain.

Doctors should conduct aggressive treatment procedures initially aimed at stopping or minimizing inflammation. Treatment can completely minimize the condition’s activity thus causing tight control of RA.

Different drugs are used in management and treatment of RA. Anti-inflammatory medications such as nonsteroids can be bought from chemists with a specialist’s instruction. Such drugs include ibuprofen and ketoprofen. Corticosteroids can also be used to quickly manage inflammations. Lastly, illness – altering anti-rheumatic medicines such as sulfasalazine can be administered in treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

Written by JUDD LaROWE, M.D.

Dr. Judd LaRowe’s private practice is River View Medical Walk-In Clinic, 1664 S Dixie Drive. in St. George, telephone 435-656-2995 He is also an Intermountain Healthcare provider of internal medicine affiliated with Dixie Regional Medical Center.

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1 Comment

  • Mike P. April 20, 2017 at 11:01 am

    So, nice article but who’s the rheumatologist? I still have to drive my wife down to Las Vegas for her appointments because there are NO rheumatologists ANYWHERE in the St. George area. We are also worried that if (some day) a rheumatologist does decide to open practice here in the St. George area he/she will be so swamped with new patients that we won’t be able to get in. This is a serious issue here.

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