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Rheumatoid arthritis

What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a chronic musculoskeletal disorder that causes inflammation in the joints. While most people believe rheumatoid arthritis is common in the older population, the condition can affect all age groups. This is because your immune system attacks the healthy tissues in the joints damaging the cartilage. This causes pain and stiffness in the joints.

RA is usually observed in small joints such as fingers, wrists, and ankles but can also be seen in larger joints like knees, elbows, shoulders & hips. However, in severe conditions, rheumatoid arthritis can affect other body parts like the eyes, skin, lungs, heart, etc. In addition, rheumatoid arthritis tends to develop symmetrically affecting both sides of the body. Let us deep dive to understand more about rheumatoid arthritis.

What Are the Different Types of Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is usually distinguished into the following types:

  • Seropositive rheumatoid arthritis
  • Seronegative rheumatoid arthritis
  • Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis

What Are the Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms are often confused with osteoarthritis since both conditions affect the joints. However, the severity of inflammation is more in RA. Early rheumatoid arthritis affects smaller joints and as the disease progresses, spreads to larger joints on both sides of the body.

People with RA sometimes experience flares as the condition deteriorates. A flare refers to the time when the patient may have significant symptoms after feeling better for a while. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis symptoms usually experience the following:

  • Pain, swelling, and stiffness in joints on both sides of your body
  • Stiffness, especially in the morning or after sitting for long periods
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Dry eyes
  • Chest Pain

When to See a Doctor?

Consult an orthopedic doctor for your rheumatoid arthritis if you are persistently experiencing pain, discomfort and swelling in the joints. You can also schedule an appointment if your treatment method is not effective and your symptoms are not improving with time. It is important to get the right guidance from the specialist to get effective treatment for your condition.

What Causes Rheumatoid Arthritis?

While the exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown, the condition is associated with an autoimmune disorder where the immune system produces inflammation that settles in the joints. The source of the disorder is known to be triggered by certain viruses and bacterial infections.

In addition, there are several risk factors that can increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. Risk factors include:

  • Family history
  • Obesity
  • Being a female
  • Smoking

How is Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosed?

The initial stages of rheumatoid arthritis are hard to distinguish since the symptoms can mimic other conditions. Therefore, orthopedic doctors generally recommend diagnostic tests and perform physical examinations to determine the cause of joint pain as rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis usually involves the following tests:

  • Blood tests
  • Imaging tests which include x-rays, ultrasound, MRI, etc.
  • Rheumatoid factor and anti-CCP antibodies test.

What Are the Treatment Methods for Rheumatoid Arthritis?

The treatment for rheumatoid arthritis involves certain medications and therapies to reduce joint pain and swelling. However, in case of severe inflammation, surgical intervention is inevitable. The goal of the treatment is to stop the process of inflammation and help maintain or improve joint function.

Some patients prolong the treatment which can lead to joint deformity and result in the loss of strength. Therefore, doctors generally recommend seeking timely care for a high success rate. Here are some treatment methods for rheumatoid arthritis cure:

  • Medications: Orthopedics doctors initially recommend certain drugs or drug combinations which can produce effective outcomes in a long term. Medications such as:
    • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) include products like Ibuprofen, Naproxen, and Aspirin.
    • COX-2 inhibitors include products like celecoxib which have fewer bleeding side effects on your stomach than NSAIDs.
    • Corticosteroids which include prednisone and cortisone and help with inflammation and pain.
    • Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) include Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors, methotrexate, hydroxychloroquine, sulfasalazine, and leflunomide.
    • Biological agents (biological response modifiers) are recommended in case the patient does not respond to DMARDs. These include abatacept, adalimumab, anakinra, certolizumab, etanercept, golimumab, infliximab, etc.
  • Therapies: Orthopedics doctors often suggest visiting a physiotherapist or occupational therapist who can improve your fitness and muscle strength. Opting for occupational therapies can help you undergo everyday tasks such as driving, picking up objects, walking, etc. These therapies are easier for your joints and help improve muscle and joint movement.
  • Surgery: Surgical procedures are considered effective methods for rheumatoid arthritis cure. When patients do not respond to medications, therapies, or other alternate treatments, surgical intervention can fix deformities and reduce pain. Here are some surgical procedures for rheumatoid arthritis cure:
    • Arthroscopy: This procedure removes inflamed joint tissues using a medical instrument called an arthroscope. It consists of a thin tube with a light and camera attached to it. The arthroscope is inserted into the joint through a tiny incision in the skin. Subsequently, the doctor inserts other medical devices through other minute incisions to remove the damaged tissue.

      Most arthroscopies are performed as outpatient procedures which means the patient doe not require more than 24 hospital stay. However, you will be discharged only after the doctor suspects no complications after the procedure.

    • Joint Replacement: Most patients with extremely severe cases often have to undergo hip, knee or shoulder joint replacement surgery. These procedures often take several days and even longer during the recovery. Orthopedics surgeons replace the entire joint with the prosthetic joint which usually has a life span of 10-20 years.
    • Finger, hand and wrist surgery: Rheumatoid arthritis often affects small joints in hands, fingers and wrists. Therefore, doctors often perform carpal tunnel release. It indicates the cutting of a ligament in the wrist to relieve pressure on a nerve. The goal of the surgery is to remove the inflamed tissue that lines the finger joints and release the tendons in the fingers to treat abnormal bending.

Why Choose Rukmani Birla Hospital (RBH) For Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment?

Rukmani Birla Hospital (RBH) is a multispeciality hospital with modern infrastructure and state-of-the-art technology that ensures comprehensive patient care. RBH provides full medical care and outpatient procedures for patients seeking treatment in orthopedics & joint replacement. The advantages of choosing RBH for your Rheumatoid Arthritis cure are:

  • Highly qualified and experienced orthopedics doctors.
  • Cutting-edge technology and the latest medical equipment.
  • Transparent Pricing Structure for cost-effective treatment.
  • Patient-centric high-quality care for a high success rate.

Get in touch with our expert doctors at Rukmani Birla Hospital, Jaipur for complete orthopedics care and treatment.


When should I undergo surgery for rheumatoid arthritis?

Surgery is best recommended for patients with chronic pain and discomfort that does not go away with medications and drug therapies. Surgical intervention is an effective method to treat pain and improve or restore normal muscle and joint movement. Consult our orthopedic doctor in case you are experiencing severe pain in the joints.

Can Rheumatoid arthritis affect children also?

Yes, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is the most common type of arthritis which is prevalent in children under the age of 16. The symptoms usually include swelling, stiffness and pain in the joints. Unlike RA in adults which can be chronic, children usually outgrow juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

What is the difference between rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis refers to the ‘wear and tear’ that usually occur with age and causes the wearing away of the cartilage that caps the bones in the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition where the immune system attacks the tissues causing inflammation in the joints. Osteoarthritis is more common and usually occurs in older people whereas rheumatoid arthritis can occur in any age group.

How can I prevent rheumatoid arthritis?

Since the exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not known, doctors often recommend the following to decrease the risk of developing the disease:

  • Stop smoking.
  • Stay fit and lose the extra weight.
  • Limit exposure to environmental pollution.
  • Consult the doctor in the early stages of pain and discomfort.

What are the complications of untreated rheumatoid arthritis?

Chronic RA can increase the risk of several complications like:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Widespread inflammation
  • Joint damage
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Cervical myelopathy

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