It has long been established that the longer you take to seek care from a rheumatologist for your rheumatoid arthritis problem, the longer it will take for you to feel better with early intervention treatments. Rheumatologists are internists who have undergone special training in diseases that negatively impact your muscles, bones, and joints. These diseases are referred to as autoimmune conditions or rheumatic diseases.
Definition Of Rheumatic Arthritis
Rheumatic arthritis is a long-term autoimmune condition, which causes your body to attack its very own bones, cartilage, and joints. As a result of this destruction, you will experience a high degree of inflammation and associated pain and joint swelling. Bear in mind that any joint can be affected by the attacks, but the most common joint attacks take place in your elbows, fingers and wrist, knees, ankles, and toes.
Consult A Rheumatologist
Begin your journey to feeling better by consulting with a rheumatology specialist. During your first consultation meeting, the rheumatologist will examine your joints for swelling, redness, and warmth. Your reflexes and muscle strength will also be checked.
Blood tests are done during this visit to determine whether you have rheumatoid arthritis. The blood tests will be used to determine whether you have elevated erythrocyte sedimentation or C-reactive protein. These two factors, if present in your blood, would indicate an inflammatory process exists in your body. Other blood tests could be searching for rheumatoid factor and peptide antibodies. Your rheumatologist might also recommend that MRI and ultrasound tests be done, which could reveal disease severity in your body.
Once all the test results are back, your rheumatologist will define a plan of care for you. While there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, your treatment plan will be tailored to your specific needs to offer you relief.
Depending upon the severity of your condition, you might be started on nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain and inflammation. Some patients need stronger prescription drugs or even anti-rheumatic drugs. The latter drugs serve to slow down the progression of your rheumatoid arthritis condition, which in turn saves your joints and tissue from lasting damage.
Physical Therapy Or Occupational Therapy
Your rheumatologist might refer you for physical therapy (PT) or occupational therapy (OT). PT exercises keep your joints pliant, while OT assists you in handling how to dress yourself with button hooks or how to handle other tasks that are difficult.
Surgical intervention is a last resort when none of the other available treatments are helping you. In that case, you may have to undergo either tendon repair, total joint replacement, joint fusion, or synovectomy. Your rheumatologist will discuss your planned and unique surgical intervention procedure with you.
For more information, contact a clinic like Sarasota Arthritis Center.