If you develop signs of rheumatoid arthritis, one of the most important steps you can take is to get treatment as soon as possible. Early treatment can help stop progressive joint damage. With more than 25 years of experience in diagnosing and managing rheumatoid arthritis, Ariel D. Teitel, MD, offers comprehensive care for the disease, including today’s most advanced medications that reduce swelling and preserve your joints. To learn more about the best treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, call the office near Columbus Circle in Manhattan, New York City, or request an appointment online today.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. When you have an autoimmune disease, your immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system targets the synovial tissues that line your joints, causing a significant amount of inflammation.
Though rheumatoid arthritis can spread to other joints, it usually begins in the small joints of your fingers, toes, wrists, and feet. This type of arthritis affects the same joints on both sides of your body. Without treatment, the ongoing inflammation erodes the bones inside the joint and causes joint deformities.
Rheumatoid arthritis causes the same classic joint pain and stiffness as other types of arthritis. However, as an inflammatory disease, it also causes fatigue, a low-grade fever, and joint tenderness and warmth. You may also develop visible, firm lumps (nodules) around the affected joint.
Your joints feel worse when you first get up in the morning. In fact, the morning stiffness associated with rheumatoid arthritis can last for hours.
About 40% of people with rheumatoid arthritis develop inflammatory health problems in other parts of their body. A few examples include:
Rheumatoid arthritis increases your risk of osteoporosis for two reasons. Chronic inflammation contributes to osteoporosis, and the corticosteroids often used to treat the disease interfere with bone production.
To diagnose rheumatoid arthritis, Dr. Teitel carefully evaluates your health, runs blood tests, and performs an in-office ultrasound to view your joints. After confirming you have rheumatoid arthritis, your treatment typically begins with medications.
Dr. Teitel uses the latest medications, called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), to slow the progression of the disease and save your joints from permanent damage. Since it takes several weeks for DMARDs to take effect, Dr. Teitel may prescribe other medications to quickly reduce the inflammation and pain.
In addition to medications, it’s important to gently exercise your joints. Exercise helps maintain mobility, relieve your pain, and fight fatigue. However, you also need to balance your activity level with your health and limit the type of exercise when your rheumatoid arthritis flares up.
If you have joint pain and swelling, call Ariel D. Teitel, MD, or book an appointment online today.