Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic and long-term autoimmune and inflammatory disease that causes pain and swelling around joints and other body organs. It occurs when the body mistakenly attacks its healthy cells and tissue resulting in swelling and pain.
Symptoms often first present in the smaller joints such as the hands and feet. As the disease progresses, the pain will spread throughout the body, usually occurring in unison with joints on both sides of the body. Roughly 40% of people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis experience symptoms outside their joints.
Most people who experience rheumatoid arthritis will experience the following:
While the specific cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown, several risk factors seem to increase the risk of the condition developing.
On its own, rheumatoid arthritis can be painful, but if left untreated, as the disease progresses, it can lead to further complications and health predicaments that will affect your life. Many people with rheumatoid arthritis eventually find it difficult to hold down a job and work due to the pain and suffer from a decrease in physical exercise.
People who have rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to suffer from other chronic conditions such as premature heart disease and diabetes.
As a result of the pain, many people will find it difficult to remain active and may become obese due to their rheumatoid arthritis. Obesity leads to a higher risk of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a risk factor for a host of other ailments.
It may not be possible to prevent rheumatoid arthritis completely, but it is possible to lessen your chances and decrease the risk factors. Losing weight or quitting smoking, for example, can make an impact in your life as well as regular doctor's visits.
A rheumatologist is a doctor who specializes in rheumatoid arthritis and should be consulted about the condition. While there is no known cure for the disease, if you have rheumatoid arthritis, there are several treatments available to you which you and your doctor should discuss.
If you feel you are developing or have been living with rheumatoid arthritis, contact The Pain Center of San Diego to make an appointment with one of our specialists and begin managing your condition today.
Our entire practice revolves around helping patients feel better. Pain is a fact of life until it interferes with the joys of living. Sandra Thompson, MD, and The Pain Center San Diego have innovative and comprehensive solutions to all forms of discomfort.
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