Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment in Metro Atlanta

Overview of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disorder primarily affecting the joints, including those in the hands and feet. It is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s tissues, causing painful swelling and potential joint deformity. RA affects approximately 1% of the global population and is more common in middle-aged women. Early diagnosis and treatment at Arthritis and Rheumatology of Georgia (ARG) are crucial to managing symptoms and preventing joint damage.

Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Joint Pain and Swelling: Persistent pain and swelling in the joints, especially in the hands, feet, wrists, elbows, knees, and ankles.
  • Stiffness: Particularly noticeable in the morning or after periods of inactivity.
  • Fatigue: Chronic tiredness and a general feeling of being unwell.
  • Fever and Loss of Appetite: Systemic symptoms that can accompany flare-ups.
  • Rheumatoid Nodules: Firm lumps under the skin, often around the elbows.

Diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Physical Examination: Conducted by a rheumatologist at Arthritis and Rheumatology of Georgia to check for joint swelling, redness, and warmth.
  • Blood Tests:
    • Rheumatoid Factor (RF): An antibody found in about 70-80% of people with RA.
    • Anti-CCP Antibodies: Highly specific markers for RA.
    • ESR and CRP: Indicators of inflammation in the body.
  • Imaging Tests:
    • X-rays: To detect joint damage and erosion.
    • MRI and Ultrasound: To assess the severity of inflammation and early joint changes.

Treatment Options for Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Medications:
    • NSAIDs: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
    • Corticosteroids: Fast-acting anti-inflammatory drugs.
    • DMARDs: Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs to slow disease progression.
    • Biologic Agents: Targeted therapies that block specific pathways in the inflammatory process.
  • Therapies:
    • Physical Therapy: Exercises to maintain joint flexibility and muscle strength.
    • Occupational Therapy: Techniques to protect joints during daily activities.
    • Infusion Therapy: Administered in our in-house infusion suite for medications requiring intravenous delivery.
  • Lifestyle Changes:
    • Exercise: Regular, low-impact exercises such as swimming or walking.
    • Diet: A balanced diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods.
    • Stress Management: Techniques such as yoga and meditation.
    • Smoking Cessation: Quitting smoking to reduce symptom severity.
  • Surgical Options:
    • Joint Replacement Surgery: Replacing damaged joints with artificial ones.
    • Synovectomy: Removal of the inflamed joint lining.
    • Tendon Repair: Fixing damaged tendons around the joints.

Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Pain and Fatigue Management: Using medications, physical therapy, and adequate rest.
  • Joint Function and Mobility: Engaging in regular exercises and using assistive devices if needed.
  • Regular Check-Ups: Keeping up with appointments to monitor disease progression and treatment efficacy.
  • Medication Adherence: Taking prescribed medications as directed to manage symptoms and prevent flare-ups.

Frequently Asked Questions | Rheumatoid Arthritis

What causes rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, but the exact cause is unknown. It is believed to result from a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

How is rheumatoid arthritis different from osteoarthritis?
RA is an autoimmune condition causing inflammation in the joints, while osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease resulting from wear and tear.

Can diet affect rheumatoid arthritis symptoms?
Yes, a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods such as fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids can help manage RA symptoms.

What are the side effects of RA medications?
Side effects vary depending on the medication but can include gastrointestinal issues, increased risk of infections, and liver damage.

How can I manage flare-ups?
Managing flare-ups involves taking medications as prescribed, applying heat or cold to affected joints, resting, and avoiding activities that stress the joints.

Is rheumatoid arthritis hereditary?
There is a genetic component to RA, but having a family member with the condition does not guarantee that you will develop it.

What lifestyle changes can help manage rheumatoid arthritis?
Regular exercise, a healthy diet, stress management, and quitting smoking can all help manage RA symptoms and improve overall health.

Contact Arthritis and Rheumatology of Georgia

For comprehensive rheumatoid arthritis care, schedule an appointment with Arthritis and Rheumatology of Georgia. Call us at 404-255-5956 or use our online contact form. We proudly serve patients in the metro Atlanta area and beyond, providing expert care and personalized treatment plans.

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