Rheumatoid arthritis is second only to osteoarthritis in terms of how many it affects, most of whom develop the disease when they're young. If you're trying to manage rheumatoid arthritis and need some support, the rheumatology experts at Arthritis Associates in San Antonio, Texas, can help. They use innovative treatments to relieve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, including disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biologic medications. To benefit from their experience, call Arthritis Associates to schedule a consultation or book an appointment online today.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that develops when your immune system malfunctions. Instead of just targeting potentially harmful organisms like bacteria and viruses, the immune system attacks normal, healthy cells.
With rheumatoid arthritis, the cells are in your synovium, the tissue lining the inner joint surfaces. The synovium makes lubricating fluid for the joint and helps sustain your cartilage and bones.
When the synovium comes under attack, it triggers tissue inflammation resulting in swelling and pain. The inflammation persists, eventually destroying cartilage and bone and causing joint deformity and permanent damage.
Rheumatoid arthritis often initially affects small joints in your toes, fingers, feet, and wrists. Over time, larger joints like your hips, knees, shoulders, and elbows also suffer from the pain, stiffness, weakness, and loss of function typical of rheumatoid arthritis.
Stiffness is likely to be worse after you've been asleep or immobile for a while and persists for at least 1-2 hours, then improve with movement. This type of stiffness in the morning is the earliest sign of rheumatoid arthritis.
Most patients find that rheumatoid arthritis symptoms are symmetrical, affecting the same joints on each side of their body. In addition to the problems with your joints, you might have other symptoms like chronic fatigue, low-grade fever, and loss of appetite.
The inflammation can also spread to other parts of your body, so you might develop complications like Sjögren's syndrome and small lumps under the skin called rheumatoid nodules. Like many types of arthritis, this disease goes through cycles where symptoms flare up, then improve for a while.
The team at Arthritis Associates aims to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis at the earliest opportunity and treat it aggressively to minimize the effects of this life-long disease. Your treatment plan contains a selection of therapies based on the severity of your condition.
Physical therapy is vital to stop your joints from seizing up, while nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and steroid injections are useful for reducing inflammation and relieving pain.
Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) not only alleviate your symptoms but can slow down or even prevent ongoing joint damage.
Another class of drugs, biologics, help to modify your immune system response, lessen your symptoms, and slow down the rate of deterioration. IV infusion therapy is the best way of taking medications like DMARDs and biologics.
Arthritis Associates has a convenient in-house infusion suite where you can relax during your treatment.
To benefit from expert treatment and management of your rheumatoid arthritis, call Arthritis Associates or book an appointment online today.