Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a common inflammatory condition that affects the joints and causes painful swelling, stiffness, and feelings of tiredness. Our board-certified doctors specialize in joint complications and are able to design a personalized treatment plan to help patients manage their symptoms in accordance with their daily needs. If you have chronic joint pain or you have recently been diagnosed with RA, we can conduct a thorough exam and discuss your treatment options at our Cedar Park or Austin, TX, office.
Understanding the Importance of Joint Health
Our joints are made up of various muscles, tendons, and ligaments, which allow for a broad range of movement. Joints exist in our wrists, elbows, shoulders, hips, knees, ankles, and other areas of the body. When we fail to properly care for these joints, they are more susceptible to injury and chronic conditions like arthritis. These conditions can damage the joints over time, limiting your mobility and causing discomfort.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Arthritis is the inflammation of a joint, and RA is an autoimmune disease. Instead of the body’s immune system attacking bacteria or viruses, it attacks joints throughout the body. The tissues within the joints, known as synovium, then become inflamed. The synovium normally produces fluid to lubricate the joints as they move but inflammation reduces this lubrication, making joints stiff and painful.
With early diagnosis, we can provide patients with treatments to manage their symptoms and prevent joint damage.
RA affects nearly one and a half million people in the U.S. It is three times more common in women than in men. In women, RA typically begins to develop between the ages of 30 and 60, whereas it develops much later in life for men. The disease is typically more severe in men.
Causes and Effects of RA
Although the exact cause of RA is still not known, in general, if someone in your family has it, you are more likely to develop the disease. Some research has also suggested that certain viral or bacterial infections cause fundamental changes to the immune system, leading it to attack the joints.
Unlike other types of arthritis, RA is symmetrical, and it typically affects the wrists, elbows, ankles, and knees. The condition can also affect other organs in the body, including nerve tissue, blood vessels, and bone marrow.
Symptoms of RA
This type of arthritis can cause:
- Pain and swelling in the same joints on both sides of the body
- Feelings of heat around the joints and tenderness or redness in the area
- Joint stiffness that lasts more than 30 minutes, especially first thing in the morning or after sitting for extended periods of time
- Overall fatigue
If you experience any of these signs, you should schedule an appointment with one of our doctors to obtain a diagnosis.
Managing RA Symptoms
With early diagnosis, we can provide patients with treatments to manage their symptoms and prevent joint damage. Treatment plans may include a combination of medications and exercises or therapy. For patients who have already suffered joint damage or experience more severe complications, we can perform endoscopic surgery to make corrections.
Meet with One of Our Surgeons Today
If you are experiencing the symptoms of RA, we can help to restore your comfort, mobility, and overall quality of life. Contact a member of our team online or call (512) 476-2830 to schedule an appointment.