Rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic inflammatory condition, extends its impact beyond joint health. For some individuals, this disorder can wreak havoc on various body systems, encompassing the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, and blood vessels. Characterized by autoimmune dysfunction, rheumatoid arthritis emerges when the body’s immune system mistakenly assaults its own tissues. In stark contrast to osteoarthritis’s gradual wear-and-tear effects, rheumatoid arthritis targets joint linings, initiating painful swelling that can culminate in joint deformities and bone erosion. This inflammation isn’t limited to joint areas; it can also wreak havoc on other bodily regions. Serious rheumatoid arthritis can still result in physical limitations, despite the fact that new drugs have significantly improved treatment choices.
Initial stages of rheumatoid arthritis often impact smaller joints, notably those linking fingers to hands and toes to feet. With disease progression, symptoms may extend to wrists, knees, ankles, elbows, hips, and shoulders. Typically, symptoms manifest symmetrically on both sides of the body. Around 40% of rheumatoid arthritis patients experience non-joint-related symptoms. Potentially affected areas include the:
Severity of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms can vary, with episodes of intensified disease activity known as flares alternating with periods of remission. Over time, this condition could lead to joint deformities and misalignment.
Certain factors that could elevate your susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis include:
Gender. Rheumatoid arthritis is more common in women than in males.
Age: While rheumatoid arthritis can manifest at any age, its onset is most prevalent during middle age.
Family History: If someone in your family has had rheumatoid arthritis, your likelihood of developing the condition might be increased.
Smoking: Cigarette smoking raises the risk of rheumatoid arthritis, especially if a genetic predisposition is present. Smoking is also linked to more severe disease manifestations.
Excess Weight: Individuals with excess body weight may have a slightly heightened risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis heightens the likelihood of encountering the following complications:
Osteoporosis: The condition itself and certain medications used for treating it can elevate the risk of osteoporosis — a disorder that diminishes bone strength and raises the susceptibility to fractures.
Rheumatoid nodules: These solid tissue lumps often form near pressure points, such as the elbows, but can emerge anywhere in the body, even affecting the heart and lungs.
Dry eyes and mouth: Those with rheumatoid arthritis are more prone to developing Sjogren’s syndrome, a condition that reduces moisture levels in the eyes and mouth.
Infections: Both rheumatoid arthritis and various medications used to combat it can compromise the immune system, leading to heightened infection susceptibility. Immunizations, including those for influenza, pneumonia, shingles, and COVID-19, are crucial preventive measures.
Unusual body composition: Even individuals with a normal body mass index (BMI), those with rheumatoid arthritis often possess a higher ratio of fat to lean mass.
Carpal tunnel syndrome: In cases where rheumatoid arthritis affects the wrists, inflammation can compress the primary nerve serving the hand and fingers.
Cardiovascular problems: Rheumatoid arthritis elevates the risk of hardened and obstructed arteries, alongside inflammation of the heart’s enclosing sac.
Respiratory issues: The condition amplifies the chances of lung tissue inflammation and scarring, culminating in progressive breathlessness.
Lymphoma: Rheumatoid arthritis heightens the risk of lymphoma, a cluster of blood cancers originating in the lymphatic system.
Detecting rheumatoid arthritis in its early stages can be challenging as initial signs and symptoms often resemble those of various other conditions. There is no single blood test or specific physical finding that definitively confirms the diagnosis. During the physical examination, our rheumatologist will assess your joints for indicators like swelling, redness, and warmth. Reflexes and muscle strength may also be evaluated.
Individuals with rheumatoid arthritis frequently exhibit an increased erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), also known as a sed rate, or elevated C-reactive protein (CRP) levels. These markers can suggest the presence of an inflammatory process within the body. Additional common blood tests might target rheumatoid factor and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) antibodies.
To monitor the progression of rheumatoid arthritis in your joints over time, X-rays may be recommended by our doctor. MRI and ultrasound scans can assist in gauging the disease’s severity throughout your body.
Given that joint damage often occurs within the initial two years after diagnosis, seeking medical attention upon noticing symptoms is crucial. Addressing rheumatoid arthritis during this critical “window of opportunity” can mitigate potential long-term effects. Approaches to treating rheumatoid arthritis encompass lifestyle adjustments, therapeutic interventions, medication, and, in some cases, surgical procedures. Our rheumatologist takes into account factors such as your age, overall health, medical background, and the severity of your symptoms when determining the most appropriate course of treatment.
Medications for Treating Arthritis Rheumatology
Early intervention with specific medications can significantly enhance your long-term prognosis. Combinations of drugs might yield greater effectiveness and comparable safety when compared to single-drug therapy. A diverse range of medications is available to alleviate joint pain, inflammation, swelling, and to slow down or prevent disease progression. The following are examples of drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis:
These medications diminish both pain and inflammation. Some examples are:
Also known as steroids, corticosteroids are effective in managing pain and inflammation. They include medications like prednisone and cortisone.
Surgical intervention might be considered to regain functionality in joints significantly impaired by rheumatoid arthritis. If your pain remains unmanageable with medication, our rheumatologist could propose surgical solutions. Surgical procedures addressing rheumatoid arthritis comprise:
At Zia Medical Center, we are dedicated to providing comprehensive and specialized care for individuals dealing with arthritis and rheumatological conditions. Our experienced team of rheumatologists is committed to offering personalized treatment plans that address the unique needs of each patient, ensuring their improved quality of life and overall well-being. Arthritis, encompassing a range of inflammatory joint disorders, can lead to pain, stiffness, and reduced joint mobility. Our skilled rheumatologists specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of various forms of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and more. We utilize advanced diagnostic techniques to accurately assess the condition and its underlying causes, enabling us to tailor treatment approaches that best suit the individual. At Zia Medical Center, our approach to arthritis and rheumatological care involves a combination of evidence-based treatments, medication management, physical therapy, and lifestyle recommendations. We prioritize open communication with our patients, ensuring they are well-informed about their condition and actively involved in the decision-making process regarding their treatment options. Our rheumatologists at Zia Medical Center are not only highly qualified but also compassionate in their approach to patient care. We understand the impact that arthritis and related conditions can have on daily life, and our goal is to help patients regain control and live their lives to the fullest. If you or a loved one is seeking expert care for arthritis and rheumatology in Dubai, Zia Medical Center is your trusted destination. Our patient-centered approach, combined with our commitment to the latest advancements in medical science, ensures that you receive the highest quality care in a supportive and caring environment. Schedule an appointment with our experienced rheumatologists today to take the first step towards improved joint health and enhanced quality of life.