An autoimmune disease causing inflammation and thickening of joint synovium (fluid-producing tissues lining the inside of joints), rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can permanently damage joint cartilage and bones if left unchecked.
Joints affected by RA may stiffen and lose much of their flexibility. In addition, joint deformities may occur that severely limit physical abilities. Since joint and cartilage damage due to RA is irreversible, seeing a rheumatoid arthritis doctor in New York City as soon as you are diagnosed with RA is essential to controlling the progression of the disease.
RA affects ankles, knees, wrists, hands, elbows and feet in a symmetrical fashion, meaning if you have RA in one knee, you probably have it in the other knee. RA is also considered a “systemic” disease, because it may target body systems — especially the cardiovascular and central nervous system. Your respiratory and circulatory systems may be impaired by RA, as well.
Diagnosis of RA is clinical, based on a patient’s description of symptoms. Most people present stiffness and pain in multiple joints, followed by a worsening of symptoms over the next few months. Sometimes, the onset of RA is preceded by “prodromal” symptoms, such as fatigue, general weakness and extreme lack of appetite.
Your rheumatoid arthritis doctor in Staten Island will recommend one or more of the following treatment for RA:
- NSAIDS: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as ibuprofen and aspirin, selectively prevent COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes from producing chemicals responsible for joint and tissue inflammation and pain.
- Prescription COX-2 Inhibitors: The prescription NSAID Celecoxib differs from over-the-counter NSAIDs because it targets the COX-2 enzyme to prevent the release of prostaglandins responsible for inflammation.
- DMARDs: Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs work to stop inflammation and damage to joints affected by RA. DMARDs are often used in combination with biologics to improve their effectiveness. Biologics such as Enbrel and Humera are are genetically-engineered proteins taken from human genes derived from human genes. They may help reduce the symptoms of RA by targeting specific, rather than general, components of a dysfunctional immune system.
- JAK Inhibitors: A fairly new subtype of DMARDs, JAK inhibitors block Janus kinase (JAK) pathways known to play a role in the immune system’s response (whether real or mistaken) to infections. Unlike biologics, JAK inhibitors can be taken orally.
- Stem Cell and Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy: Two cutting-edge RA treatments that may help regenerate joints and cartilage damaged by rheumatoid arthritis, PRP and stem cell therapy uses a patient’s own blood or bone marrow fluid to infuse growth factors into joints affected by RA.
- Joint Arthroplasty: In severe cases of RA, when joints have deteriorated to the point that they no longer function, a total joint arthroplasty may be recommended by a rheumatoid arthritis doctor in New York City. Typically performed on elbows, knees, wrists and hips, a total joint arthroplasty replaces, remodels or realigns damaged joints by osteotomy or other procedures.
If you have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, don’t wait to get treatment from a professional rheumatoid arthritis doctor. Call Regional Orthopedics today to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced rheumatologists who can help you manage your RA symptoms. We have locations in Brooklyn, New York City, Staten Island and Jersey City.
Rheumatologists are also best qualified to give you an accurate diagnosis of RA and develop a treatment plan that addresses your particular health needs. If your primary care doctor suspects you may have RA, call Regional Orthopedics today to start managing your rheumatoid arthritis.