Diagnose and Treat Your Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain
Do you experience aching in more than one joint? Are your joints stiff and swollen? It could be rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the joints and causes painful swelling and stiffness.
Our doctors at Orthopaedic Specialists of Austin in Austin, TX, can diagnose and treat pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis.
What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
A Closer Look at a Debilitating Autoimmune Disease
Unlike arthritis caused by the natural wearing down of cartilage, rheumatoid arthritis is a condition in which the body's immune system attacks the soft tissue of your joints throughout your body, causing them to become inflamed and painful. Unlike other types of arthritis, RA is symmetrical (meaning it occurs in the same joints on both sides of the body), and typically affects the wrists, elbows, ankles, and knees.
What is the Cause of Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is the result of an improper immune response in the body. The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown, but some factors can put you at a greater risk of developing the disease.
Stop Living With Joint Stiffness
Contact the Orthopedic Specialists of Austin Today
Rheumatoid arthritis is not curable, but it is treatable. With early diagnosis, our doctors in Austin, TX, can provide patients with treatments to manage their symptoms and prevent joint damage. Unlike rheumatologists, our experienced orthopedic surgeons can provide any form of treatment, including surgery. If you are experiencing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, we can help to restore your comfort, mobility, and overall quality of life. Contact our Austin, TX, office to request a consultation.
Rheumatoid Arthritis versus Osteoarthritis
What is the Difference? Arthritis is the umbrella term that encompasses the many types of the disease. However, there are several differences between the types of arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder. Rather than the body's immune system attacking bacteria or viruses, it attacks your joints. 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, causing joint pain.
This form of arthritis is caused by the natural wearing down of cartilage in your joints. This is the most common form of arthritis; it can affect all ages, but typically develops later in life. Cartilage acts as a cushion in our joints. As it gets worn down, the bones begin to rub against each other, causing joint pain and stiffness.
What Puts Me at Risk of Developing Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis can happen at any age, but it most commonly occurs between the ages of 30 and 60.
Rheumatoid arthritis is three times more common in women than in men. However, the disease is typically more severe in men.
If someone in your family has rheumatoid arthritis, you are more likely to develop the disease.
Some research has suggested that certain viral or bacterial infections cause fundamental changes to the immune system, leading it to attack the joints.
Numerous studies have shown that smoking increases your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, it can make your symptoms more severe.
Diagnosing Rheumatoid Arthritis
You don't need to see a rheumatologist to diagnose and treat your rheumatoid arthritis. Our joint specialists in Austin, TX, are experienced at providing effective treatment for our patients suffering from the disease. Diagnosis requires:
We will go over your symptoms and family history to determine if you are showing the signs of rheumatoid arthritis. We will also check your joints for swelling, redness, and heat.
X-rays will be taken of your affected joints to see the extent of the disease. They may also be taken through your treatment to monitor the disease's progression.
Blood tests will be taken to check for your signs of rheumatoid arthritis, including the rheumatoid factor. Rheumatoid factors are the proteins that attack the healthy tissue in your joints, causing the symptoms of arthritis.
Why Our Doctors Are the Right Choice
for Your Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment
All of our doctors at our Austin, TX, practice are board-certified and fellowship-trained. Each one specializes in their specific area of focus. While generalists may only perform two joint-specific surgeries a year, ours perform several in one day. It is our mission to utilize the latest orthopaedic technology to provide the least invasive care possible while still maintaining effective results and rapid recovery. When you visit our Austin, TX, practice, you can be sure you are getting top-quality care. If you are tired of living in pain, call our Austin, TX, office to schedule your rheumatoid arthritis consultation.
The Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis
There is no need to see a rheumatologist for your joint pain. Our board-certified doctors specialize in joint complications and are able to design a personalized treatment plan to help you manage your symptoms in accordance with your daily needs. Solutions include:
Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) may be prescribed to slow the disease and prevent further joint damage. These disease-modifying drugs have been shown to change the course of the disease, unlike NSAIDs. Biological response modifiers may be a second option. These drugs modify your immune response so your body will no longer attack your healthy tissue.
Physical or occupational therapy may be recommended for people suffering with rheumatoid arthritis. Your therapist will develop an exercise treatment plan to help keep your joints mobile and flexible. They can also teach you at-home exercises and some new ways to perform daily activities to alleviate stress on your joints.
Certain tools can sometimes make daily life easier for someone suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Gripping devices or everyday utensils with longer handles can make doing daily chores less painful.
Minimally Invasive Treatment
Surgery is always our last recommendation. When no other treatment has worked or when your issues are too severe, only then will we discuss surgery as a treatment option.
One of the benefits of seeing our orthopedic specialists over a rheumatologist is we can provide all forms of treatments, including surgery. For patients who have already suffered joint damage or are experiencing more severe complications, we can expertly perform endoscopic surgery to make corrections. Surgeries that might be needed include tendon repair, joint fusion, synovectomy, or a total joint replacement.
How Can I Manage My Symptoms?
The best way to manage your symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis is to follow your doctor or therapist's care instructions. In addition to their treatment plan, there are other lifestyle changes and home remedies you can implement to ease your pain:
Exercising regularly helps to keep the muscles around your joints strong. Strong muscles support the surrounding joints. Talk with your doctor before exercising to make sure the type of exercise will not cause further harm to your affected joints.
Hot or Cold Compress
If your joints are swollen and achy, try applying a hot or cold compress to help ease your pain. If your joint is swollen and red, it is best to apply a cold compress, as this will help reduce swelling and the heat that comes with it.
Rest and relaxation are important to reduce the mental and physical toll this disease can cause. Finding time to rest, do some light stretching, deep breathing, and muscle relaxation can all help ease your physical and mental strain.