Rheumatoid Arthritis

About 1.3 million Americans suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, which is one of the most common autoimmune disorders. To combat the often debilitating effects of this chronic condition, Austin Medical Group offers expert management and treatment programs tailored to people in Austin, Texas. While there’s no cure for the disease, there’s much the health care professionals can do to help you maintain a good quality of life. To get started, call or use the online scheduler to book an appointment.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Q & A

What is rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is a painful condition because the very system that’s designed to protect your body is attacking it instead. Your body’s immune system is your first, and most important, a line of defense against potentially harmful diseases, foreign substances, bacteria, and more. Upon detection of something it deems hostile, your system kicks into gear and works to fight off and destroy the invader.

With rheumatoid arthritis, your body’s immune system, for reasons unknown, attacks the synovial fluid in your joints, causing chronic inflammation. Over time, this inflammation begins to affect the surrounding bone and tissue, compromising your joint’s ability to function correctly.

Medical researchers have been unable to pinpoint the cause of rheumatoid arthritis. The disorder typically strikes men and women between the ages of 30 and 60, but most people don’t start to see symptoms until they’re in their 60s.

While there’s no known cause of the disease, medical researchers believe the following may play a role:

  • Genetics
  • Environment
  • Hormones
  • Lifestyle risk factors, such as obesity and smoking

What are the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis?

The most common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are:

  • Swollen joints that may be tender or warm to the touch
  • Stiffness in the joints
  • Fatigue
  • Fever

Rheumatoid arthritis usually develops in your smaller joints first, such as the ones in your fingers and toes, and progresses to your larger joints over time.

Rheumatoid arthritis not only affects your joints, but it can also impact your:

  • Eyes
  • Skin
  • Lungs
  • Heart
  • Blood vessels
  • Bone marrow
  • Kidneys

How is rheumatoid arthritis treated?

Since there’s no known cause of rheumatoid arthritis, there’s no single cure. That said, your doctor at Austin Medical Group has several ways to halt the progression of the disease, as well as manage your symptoms.

Depending on how advanced your rheumatoid arthritis is, your doctor typically recommends any, or a combination, of the following:

  • Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs to slow the progression
  • Biologic response modifiers to target your immune system
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Physical therapy
  • Hot/cold therapies
  • Lifestyle changes, such as losing weight
  • Joint replacement

Your doctor works first and foremost to relieve your symptoms and slow the progression of your rheumatoid arthritis, finding the right combination of therapies and treatments that work best for you.

To better manage, and even slow or halt, your rheumatoid arthritis, call Austin Medical Group, or use the online booking tool to schedule an appointment.