What Are The Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that causes an individual’s immune system to attack his or her joints, triggering painful inflammation that can negatively impact quality of life. It most commonly affects the wrists, hands, and feet, although pain can spread to the elbows, knees, and ankles as the disease progresses. The inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis may also affect the eyes, blood vessels, lungs, and heart.
Some of the early symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include:
- Fatigue, sometimes alongside depression
- Unexplained weight loss
- Slight joint stiffness, often in the fingers
As rheumatoid arthritis progresses, it can cause marked tenderness, swelling, pain, warmth, and redness in one or more joints. This discomfort is often worse in the morning and after periods of inactivity. Symptoms also tend to come and go; a period of increased rheumatoid arthritis activity is called a “flare.”
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, it’s important to promptly speak with your doctor. Diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis early may lead to a more successful treatment and faster relief from symptoms.
What Are The Risk Factors for Rheumatoid Arthritis?
The exact causes of rheumatoid arthritis are not yet clear, but researchers have identified several risk factors that may increase your chance of developing this condition. These risk factors include:
- Being female
- Having a family history of rheumatoid arthritis
- Smoking cigarettes
- Being overweight
There is also some evidence to suggest that environmental exposure to asbestos or silica may increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. It’s important to note that while these factors may leave you at a higher risk, anyone can develop rheumatoid arthritis.
How is Rheumatoid Arthritis Treated?
There is currently no curative treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. However, there are several steps you can take to slow the progression of the disease, reduce the severity of your symptoms, and help improve your overall joint health. The main treatment approaches for rheumatoid arthritis are:
- Medications to reduce inflammation and slow joint damage
- Physical therapy or occupational therapy to promote joint strength and flexibility
- Surgery to repair or replace damaged tendons or joints
Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment at Tufts Medical Center Community Care
Tufts Medical Center Community Care is a multispecialty medical group that caters to patients with rheumatoid arthritis and other rheumatic diseases. Our team includes experienced rheumatologists, primary care physicians, and dozens of other medical specialists who collaborate to provide a full spectrum of easily accessible preventive care and disease management services to patients.
If you live in north suburban Boston and are experiencing any potential symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, consider speaking with a physician at Tufts Medical Center Community Care. One of our professionals will be happy to answer any questions you may have and direct you to the best physician for your needs. With multiple convenient locations and better-than-average appointment availability, we make it simple to receive the advanced care you need and deserve.