Dr. Reed Answering the Question: What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Posted on 01/14/2016

You might not know much about Rheumatoid Arthritis except that it is hard to spell. Rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, is a crippling disease of the joints that affects about one percent of Americans. Unfortunately, doctors still have not been able to determine the cause of RA.  What we do know is that the immune system attacks the joints. Doctors have found that genetics can play a factor in who develops RA, but there is more to it. Doctors have also speculated that a virus or bacteria can cause the onset arthritis. Once an individual develops symptoms of RA, permanent joint damage can occur within a year.

Rheumatoid arthritis typically affects adults between the ages of 30 and 50, although it can develop in patients of all ages, even in children.  Additionally 70 percent of those who suffer from RA are women.

Diagnosing any type of arthritis is particularly difficult and can be challenging. The most important thing in making the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is the pattern and quality of the joint symptoms. After a careful history and physical examination, a doctor may perform  blood tests and x-rays to aid in the diagnosis of RA.

Although at times painful, life with arthritis is possible. Medications are the mainstay of treatment to control joint inflammation, but non-pharmacologic treatments such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and heat application may help as well.  Used to control the inflammation of RA are called DMARDs (disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs).  Other medications to help with the symptoms include non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids.  Some patients with more aggressive RA may require treatment with biologic agents, many of which are given by intravenous infusion at various intervals and for various lengths of time.

The doctors at Rheumatology Associates in Indianapolis are front-runners in the evaluation and treatment of rheumatic diseases such as RA. Our facility is fully equipped and offers laboratory and high quality infusion services for patients with RA and other rheumatic conditions. At Rheumatology Associates, P.C. we are leading experts in our field and ready to help you.  Call 317-844-6444 and get the help you need.