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The Symptoms and Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis

by Princeton Orthopaedic Associates


The Symptoms and Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis

by Princeton Orthopaedic Associates

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that affects the joints and causes pain, swelling, and stiffness. It is important to be aware of the early warning signs of RA in order to diagnose it and start treatment early. Those with a family history of RA have an increased risk for developing the condition, so it is important to be aware of the symptoms and get tested if needed. Let’s take a closer look at rheumatoid arthritis and how it can be diagnosed and treated.

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What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

RA is a chronic condition, meaning that it typically lasts for the person's lifetime and can cause significant disability. The exact cause of RA is not well understood, but a combination of genetic and environmental factors is thought to play a role. Women are more likely to develop RA than men, and the disease usually occurs between the ages of 40 and 60.

Common symptoms of RA include:

  • Pain and swelling in the joints, particularly in the hands, wrists, and feet
  • Stiffness, especially in the morning or after periods of inactivity
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite and weight
  • Reduced range of motion in the affected joints

Diagnosis of RA typically involves a physical examination, a review of symptoms, and a range of tests such as blood tests and X-rays. There is currently no cure for RA, but there are treatments that can help manage the symptoms and prevent further damage to the joints.

Treatment for RA may include medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), and biologic drugs that target specific parts of the immune system. Physical therapy and exercise can also help improve joint function and reduce pain. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair or replace damaged joints.

Living with RA can be challenging, but with the right treatment and support, many people are able to lead full and active lives. It is important for people with RA to work closely with their healthcare team to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that meets their specific needs.

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Diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a debilitating autoimmune disorder that affects the protective soft tissues, cartilage, and bones in a person's joints. It is commonly characterized by painful swelling, stiffness, and difficulty moving joints in the hands, wrists, feet, and ankles. This can be a difficult situation to cope with for many people and those affected are likely to need ongoing medical attention throughout their life. Rheumatoid arthritis does not just affect someone physically; it can also take its toll emotionally. Patients may find themselves in a state of frustration or even depression, as the disorder often renders them unable to perform everyday tasks without great difficulty or pain. While this autoimmune disease cannot yet be cured, there are treatments available that may help to keep symptoms under better control.

In order to make an accurate diagnosis, your doctor will need to review your medical history as well as perform certain lab tests. Blood tests, such as a complete blood count or C-reactive protein test (CRP), are often used to measure inflammation levels in the body. Imaging tests, such as X-rays or MRI scans, may also be necessary in order to determine the severity of damage caused by RA.

A family history of rheumatoid arthritis can be a significant risk factor when it comes to personal health. Knowing what to look for in terms of early warning signs of the illness can make all the difference with diagnosis and treatment. Symptoms such as sudden or unexplainable weight loss and inflammation are key indicators that one should keep an eye out for if they have any familial ties with a particular ailment. Taking extra caution and being aware of potential risks associated with your family's medical background is a great way to proactively monitor your health. Making sure to approach any strange ailments head-on will lead you on the path towards better health.

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Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a serious autoimmune disorder, but with the right kind of care, it can be managed. early signs of RA include fatigue or tiredness due to inflammation, weakness in the hands and/or knees, significant morning stiffness that usually lasts more than an hour, symmetrical joint swelling as well as pain in both hands and/or knees. While all these signs can be symptoms of other conditions too, individuals who experience them should visit their doctor for an accurate diagnosis. With the right treatment plan in place, life with RA doesn't have to be difficult.

Once a diagnosis has been made, there are several treatments available that can help manage RA symptoms and slow down its progression. Medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or biologics, are used to block chemicals released by the immune system during its attack on the joints. In addition, physical therapy can help strengthen damaged joints while surgery may be necessary if damage is severe enough. Unfortunately, there is no cure for RA yet; however, prevention is key when it comes to managing this condition – making healthy lifestyle choices like exercising regularly and eating a balanced diet can go a long way!

Unfortunately, there is no cure as yet for rheumatoid arthritis, making prevention an especially important factor. Fortunately, healthy lifestyle choices can help minimize the risk of developing this auto-immune disorder. For instance, it's important to maintain an ideal body weight and avoid smoking and periodontal disease - both of which are known to aggravate the symptoms. Additionally, if you suspect that you may have a joint condition or experience chronic pain in your joints then it would be wise to consult your doctor because while diagnoses of this type require lab tests and imaging, treatments involve blocking chemicals released by the immune system with medicine and physical therapy/surgery depending on how damaged the joints are. Therefore, by taking precautions today we can greatly reduce our chances of being affected by this debilitating illness in the future.


Rheumatoid Arthritis is a debilitating autoimmune disease that affects the joints, with pain and swelling as major symptoms. People with RA typically experience pain in multiple joints at the same time and can have a feeling of stiffness, tightness, and tenderness in their affected area. The affected joints may also have limited movement caused by swelling that happens with an attack or flare-up. More than just physical symptoms, this type of arthritis can produce feelings of low moods, fatigue and a decrease in overall quality of life. Early diagnosis and treatment can help people cope better with RA by offering remedies to reduce painful flares and providing support to manage daily life activities.

Millions around the world are diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis every year. Early detection is key when it comes to managing this condition effectively – knowing your family history can help you identify any potential risks you may have for developing RA earlier rather than later. While there is no cure yet available for this condition, there are several treatments that can help manage its symptoms and slow down its progression. Making healthy lifestyle choices like exercising regularly and eating a balanced diet are also essential steps toward preventing RA from entering one’s life in the first place.

If you think you may be suffering from RA, you should make an appointment with us at Princeton Orthopaedic Associates for a consultation and diagnosis. Your body is telling you something through your pain and we want to help you discover the cause and find the right treatment plan that will get you on path to you feeling your best self. Give us a call today.

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