Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory autoimmune disorder that not only affects the joints, but can also affect your internal organs and other parts of your body. It is more common in women, and it can affect people of all ages. If you believe that you may have rheumatoid arthritis, make an appointment with a rheumatologist. Here are some symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and effective treatment options that your doctor may recommend.
Common And Rare Symptoms
Some of the most common rheumatoid arthritis symptoms include red, painful, and swollen joints. Rheumatoid nodules may also develop over the joints, and you may experience morning stiffness when getting out of bed, and joint deformity.
Less common symptoms include fatigue, fever, frequent infections, and loss of appetite. It is important to note, that while symptoms can interfere with your life, their severity can wax and wane. When symptoms are most severe, it means that you are having a flare. When symptoms subside, you may be in remission. Rarer symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include eye pain and redness, difficulty breathing, and lung nodules.
Fluid in the lungs may also be associated with severe rheumatoid arthritis, which can cause coughing, shortness of breath, and chest pain. If you have lung symptoms, your rheumatologist may refer you to a lung specialist, or pulmonologist.
Your rheumatologist may prescribe prednisone, a common corticosteroid medication. Prednisone relieves pain, reduces joint inflammation, and slows the progression of joint damage. Corticosteroid medication can cause side effects such as bone thinning, hair loss, elevated blood glucose levels, weight gain, and mood swings. While your rheumatologist may recommend prednisone during a flare, he or she will eventually taper you off of them.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, are also commonly prescribed by rheumatologists to relieve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. They are less likely than corticosteroids to cause severe side effects, however, they can cause digestive problems, abnormal bleeding, and fluid retention.
Your physician may also recommend physical and occupational therapy to help maintain joint flexibility. If these conservative treatment options fail to ease your joint pain, your physician may recommend joint replacement surgery to remove the damaged joint and replace it with a prosthetic device.
If you have rheumatoid arthritis, see your doctor regularly. He or she will closely monitor the disease progression and your response to your current treatments. When your rheumatoid arthritis is well-managed, you are less to develop increased pain, loss of mobility, and joint destruction.
For more information, contact a rheumatologist near you.