Symptoms and treatments for rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is manifested by inflammation of the joints of the body, including the joints of the spine and extremities. This disorder causes significant pain and even deformity if left untreated. The autoimmune condition occurs in two forms — juvenile and adult onset rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis typically requires treatment for the rest of an individual’s life, although physical therapy, medication and exercise may delay joint degeneration. Find out which treatment works best to help you slow down this debilitating disease.

Juvenile versus adult onset rheumatoid arthritis

In more than half of the cases of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA), the disease disappears with adulthood. Additionally, the blood test used to diagnose JRA is negative in a majority of the cases. Despite these facts, JRA can cause bone malformation and/or destruction, the results of which may be permanent.

Adult onset rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can be managed through constant attention, but it cannot be cured. RA is a connective tissue disease belonging to a group of illnesses called autoimmune diseases. The condition affects every tissue of the body, including its major organs.

Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis

The symptoms of inflammation include redness, pain, swelling, increased temperature and loss of function, which is caused by an influx of white blood cells. Rheumatoid arthritis is commonly first seen as inflammation in the synovial joints of the hands, feet and cervical spine (neck) that allows for movement. Patients experiencing swelling or pain in their joints should consult a physician for diagnosis and treatment.

In RA, the body’s immune system attacks the synovial membrane lining these joints. RA causes inflammation and destruction of synovial lining. When healthy, these membranes produce synovial fluid, which acts as a lubricant for joints. This lubricant production is reduced in people with RA and may result in pain and deformity.

Treatments for rheumatoid arthritis

While there is no known cure for rheumatoid arthritis, a number of treatments have proven effective in slowing joint degeneration, including:

  • Physician-prescribed medications including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), corticosteroids or immunosuppressants
  • Rest, exercise and a balanced diet to reduce inflammation and fight fatigue
  • Physical therapy and stretching classes to increase strength and flexibility

In the event that you are diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, speak with your physician and a rheumatologist to determine the best course of action to mitigate the symptoms of this condition. In most instances, pain can be managed with a steady course of conservative treatment.

If the case it too severe for conservative treatments, surgery may become an option to help repair the damaged joints. If so, contact Laser Spine Institute today for your no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery.