About 1 out of 5 adults have some form of musculoskeletal disorders. It can happen to anyone and at any age. People with musculoskeletal disorders live with chronic pain, stiffness and reduced mobility. These symptoms often lead to further problems, such as fatigue, depression, absences from work and even job loss.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune condition. This means that the immune system, which is the body’s natural self-defence system, gets confused and starts to attack own body’s healthy tissues. Cigarette smoking increases the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Family history of Rheumatoid Arthritis may increase risk of developing the disease. It can affect anyone of any age. Women are affected more frequently as compared to men.
Rheumatoid arthritis causes pain, swelling, stiffness in joints and reduced mobility. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect any joint in the body, although it is often felt in the small joints in the hands and feet first. It can also involve other joints such as wrists, elbows, shoulders, knee joints and ankles. It is a long standing disease and can affect other areas of the body such as lungs, heart, skin, eyes and blood vessels. If left untreated or poorly treated, this can lead to deformities of joints, loss of function and other complications.
A diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is based on your symptoms, a physical examination by a doctor and the results of x-rays, scans and blood tests. It can be difficult sometimes to diagnose because there isn’t a test that can prove you definitely have it. There are also few other conditions that have the same symptoms. It is important to differentiate these conditions for treatment purpose. There are different drugs available that are used to treat rheumatoid arthritis; these include disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biologic drugs. Your Rheumatologist will discuss the best treatment option with you.
Early treatment is often the best treatment, but many rheumatic diseases are difficult to identify until they enter later stages. Rheumatologists are specially trained to detect the causes of pain and swelling; and thus allow earlier most effective forms of treatment. The purpose of treatment is to prevent joint damage and restore mobility and function. The earlier we make the diagnosis and start treatment, the better is the outcome. When your symptoms of arthritis get worse, this is known as a flare-up. If you’re having regular flare-ups, you should discuss this with your rheumatologist.
If you have symptoms of joint pain, swelling, stiffness or fatigue, don’t ignore it. At Healthbay, department of Rheumatology, you can discuss the best available treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis with a qualified Rheumatologist. Depending on the severity of symptoms, your Rheumatologist will discuss and recommend the most suitable treatment.
About the author
Dr Mohammad Tariq is a UK certified Rheumatologist who specializes in the management of arthritis and auto-immune diseases. He performs Musculoskeletal Ultrasound and joints injection. He has broad knowledge and clinical experience in the management of acute and chronic musculoskeletal conditions and newer biologic therapies. Dr Tariq is a member of British Society of Rheumatology and Fellow of Royal College of Physicians UK.