A Quick Guide: Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis

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Learn the signs of rheumatoid arthritis, which affects millions of Americans.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is the most common form of autoimmune arthritis, affecting more than 1.3 million Americans. Of these, about 75 percent are women. In fact, 1–3 percent of women may get rheumatoid arthritis in their lifetime. The disease most often begins between the fourth and sixth decades of life. However, RA can start at any age.

RA is a chronic (long-term) disease that causes pain, stiffness, swelling and limited motion and function of many joints. While RA can affect any joint, the small joints in the hands and feet tend to be involved most often. Inflammation sometimes can affect organs as well, for instance, the eyes or lungs.

Signs of Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Tender, warm, swollen joints
  • Symmetrical pattern of affected joints
  • Joint inflammation often affecting the wrist and finger joints closest to the hand
  • Joint inflammation sometimes affecting other joints, including the neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, ankles and feet
  • Fatigue, occasional fevers, a loss of energy
  • Pain and stiffness lasting for more than 30 minutes in the morning or after a long rest
  • Symptoms that last for many years
  • Variability of symptoms among people with the disease.

Who has Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Scientists estimate that about 1.5 million people, or about 0.6 percent of the U.S. adult population, have RA. Interestingly, some recent studies have suggested that although the number of new cases of RA for older people is increasing, the overall number of new cases may actually be going down.

RA occurs in all races and ethnic groups. Although the disease often begins in middle age and occurs with increased frequency in older people, older teenagers and young adults may also be diagnosed with the disease. Children and younger teenagers may be diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (a condition related to RA). Like some other forms of arthritis, RA occurs much more frequently in women than in men. About two to three times as many women as men have the disease.

How does Rheumatoid Arthritis Affect People’s Lives?

RA affects people differently. Some people have mild or moderate forms of the disease, with periods of worsening symptoms, called flares, and periods in which they feel better, called remissions. Others have a severe form of the disease that is active most of the time, lasts fro many years or a lifetime and leads to serious joint damage and disability.

Although RA is primarily a disease of the joints, its effects are not just physical. Many people with RA also experience issues related to:

  • Depression
  • feelings of helplessness
  • low self-esteem

RA can affect virtually every part of a person’s life, from work life to family life. It can also interfere with the joys and responsibilities of family life and may affect the decision to have children.

Finally…

The rheumatologists at Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic specialize in treating patients with arthritis, gout, lupus and related diseases.  Knowledge of these diseases continues to expand through research efforts.  Our major goal is to limit any arthritic damage, especially in rheumatoid arthritis.  Our services include bone density testing, joint injections and an IV infusion clinic for new medications.  Our rheumatologists are armed with the latest information regarding your disease and treatment options to improve your quality of life. Contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment.

(Some information provided by the American College of Rheumatology).

Rheumatoid Arthritis: What you need to know.

RA

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory disease that causes pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of function in the joints. It occurs when the immune system, which normally defends the body from invading organisms, turns its attack against the membrane lining the joints.

RA has several features that make it different from other kinds of arthritis. For example, RA generally occurs in a symmetrical pattern, meaning that if one knee or hand is involved, the other one also it. The disease often affects the wrist joints and the finger joints closest to the hand. It can also affect other parts of the body besides the joints. In addition, people with RA may have fatigue, occasional fevers and loss of energy.

The course of RA can range from mild to severe. In most cases it is chronic, meaning it lasts a long time – often a lifetime. For many people, periods of relatively mild disease activity are punctuated by flares or times of heightened disease activity. In other symptoms are constant.

Features of Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Tender, warm, swollen joints
  • Symmetrical pattern of affected joints
  • Joint inflammation often affecting the wrist and finger joints closest to the hand
  • Joint inflammation sometimes affecting other joints, including the neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, ankles and feet
  • Fatigue, occasional fevers, a loss of energy
  • Pain and stiffness lasting for more than 30 minutes in the morning or after a long rest
  • Symptoms that last for many years
  • Variability of symptoms among people with the disease.

Who has Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Scientists estimate that about 1.5 million people, or about 0.6 percent of the U.S. adult population, have RA. Interestingly, some recent studies have suggested that although the number of new cases of RA for older people is increasing, the overall number of new cases may actually be going down.

RA occurs in all races and ethnic groups. Although the disease often begins in middle age and occurs with increased frequency in older people, older teenagers and young adults may also be diagnosed with the disease. Children and younger teenagers may be diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (a condition related to RA). Like some other forms of arthritis, RA occurs much more frequently in women than in men. About two to three times as many women as men have the disease.

How does Rheumatoid Arthritis Affect People’s Lives?

RA affects people differently. Some people have mild or moderate forms of the disease, with periods of worsening symptoms, called flares, and periods in which they feel better, called remissions. Others have a severe form of the disease that is active most of the time, lasts fro many years or a lifetime and leads to serious joint damage and disability.

Although RA is primarily a disease of the joints, its effects are not just physical. Many people with RA also experience issues related to:

  • Depression
  • feelings of helplessness
  • low self-esteem

RA can affect virtually every part of a person’s life, from work life to family life. It can also interfere with the joys and responsibilities of family life and may affect the decision to have children.

Fortunately, current treatment strategies allow most people with the disease to lead active and productive lives. These strategies include pain relieving drugs and medications that slow joint damage, a balance between rest and exercise, and patient education and support programs. In recent years, research has led to a new understanding of RA and has increased the likelihood that, in time, researchers will find even better ways to treat the disease.

Don’t live with undiagnosed symptoms. Contact us today to learn more about RA or to schedule an appointment.

Both Knees Aching? Signs and Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Signs and Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis: An Overview by eMedTV

Shared from eMedTV

Although rheumatoid arthritis symptoms often affect the wrist joints and the finger joints closest to the hand, they can also affect other parts of the body besides the joints. Some symptoms that affect the joints include a decrease in motion; tender, warm, and swollen joints; and pain that is worse with movement. A few examples of signs and symptoms that may develop outside of the joint include osteoporosis, dry eyes, and dry mouth.

Overview Symptoms of Rheumatoid ArthritisAbout

Rheumatoid arthritis has several special symptoms that make it different from other kinds of arthritis. For example, symptoms of this condition generally occur in a symmetrical pattern, meaning that if one knee or hand is involved, the other one also is. Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis often affect the wrist joints and the finger joints closest to the hand. They can also affect other parts of the body besides the joints.

Early Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms

In about two out of every three people, early symptoms are pretty vague. These symptoms can include things such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Occasional fevers
  • A general sense of not feeling well
  • A decreased appetite.

These early symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may continue for weeks or months before joint symptoms begin, making a diagnosis quite difficult.

About one in every three people will have early symptoms that affect one or two joints. About 10 percent of people diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis will have a very rapid progression, with early symptoms that involve multiple joints along with fever, enlarged lymph nodes, and an enlarged spleen.

Read the full article…

Acting on the signs of Rheumatoid Arthritis

X-Ray of Rheumatoid Arthritis

“Failure to act on early signs of rheumatoid arthritis could prove fatal” from the Guardian

People are putting themselves at risk of an early death by failing to act on the early signs of rheumatoid arthritis, a doctor warned today. The crippling condition causes swelling and pain in the joints, but these symptoms are often dismissed as an inevitable consequence of ageing or too minor to trouble a GP with.

A study into patients diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis found that on average, they went untreated for more than six months, and that most of this delay was due to people failing to raise the issue with their GP. Dr Karim Raza, a consultant rheumatologist at Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Hospitals, said that acting on the first signs of rhemuatoid arthritis was crucial because it can be treated successfully if caught within three months.

“The condition does not just affect the joints. People with rheumatoid arthritis typically die 10 years younger from premature heart disease,” Dr Raza said.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an immune disorder that targets the joints, but also damages other parts of the body. The condition affects 350,000 people in Britain and usually appears between the ages of 30 and 50. Three times as many women are affected as men…

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The rheumatologists at Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic specialize in treating patients with arthritis, gout, lupus and related diseases.