Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that typically affects the small joints in your hands and feet. It is an aggressive, destructive disease. It attacks your joints and tissues like they are foreign bodies. It comes with pain, stiffness and other symptoms that bring down your quality of life.
If that sounds grim, consider this: Rheumatoid arthritis has become highly treatable, too. It may be more treatable than any other known form of arthritis. That’s just one of many factors that make rheumatoid arthritis different.
1. Symptoms are different
Rheumatoid arthritis can come on gradually or start suddenly. Unlike osteoarthritis, symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are often more severe, causing pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, stiffness. You may feel pain and stiffness and experience swelling in your hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, knees, ankles, feet, jaw and neck. Sometimes the pain occurs in one body part. But more commonly, rheumatoid arthritis pain occurs in combinations of several joints such as in the hands, knees and feet.
2. Why it is different?
Rheumatoid arthritis is different because it’s an autoimmune disease. It is a form of inflammatory arthritis, Osteoarthritis, is a disease in part of time and aging. You don’t get it from regular wear-and-tear on your body. Your body’s attack on itself results in inflammation, which causes pain, stiffness, swelling and other symptoms that may affect other organs.
3. Medications can help
Many drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis have potentially serious side effects. Doctors typically prescribe medications with the fewest side effects first.
Methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall):This drug works by counteracting the immune system’s attack on your joints.
TNF inhibitors (Enbrel, Humira, Remicade and Simponi):These medications block the compound that does damage.
B-cell and T-cell inhibitors:B-cells and T-cells are blood cells that play a major role in inflammation, so this class of drugs targets them.
Prednisone and cortisone:Corticosteroid injections ease symptoms in a lot of patients. But advances in other drugs mean they’re not always necessary anymore.
Our goal is to give the lowest doses possible to control your symptoms and your quality of life.
If medications fail to prevent or slow joint damage, doctor may consider surgery to repair damaged joints. Surgery may help restore your ability to use your joint. It can also reduce pain and correct deformities. Rheumatoid arthritis surgery may involve one or more of the following procedures:
Total joint replacement.During joint replacement surgery, surgeon removes the damaged parts of your joint and inserts a prosthesis made of metal and plastic.
Tendon repair.Inflammation and joint damage may cause tendons around your joint to loosen or rupture. Surgeon may be able to repair the tendons around your joint.
Joint fusion.Surgically fusing a joint may be recommended to stabilize or realign a joint and for pain relief when a joint replacement isn’t an option.