An autoimmune disorder affecting joints, including those in the hands and feet.
Rheumatoid Arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the membranes around your joints and causes inflammation. This swelling often leads to pain and bone erosions. Rheumatoid arthritis is different from osteoarthritis, which occurs when the protective tissues in the joints wear down over time and with activity.
Pain Associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis: Facts & Information
Rheumatoid Arthritis is different from osteoarthritis, which occurs when the protective tissues in the joints wear down over time and with age. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that affects the joints but can also affect the entire body, including the lungs and heart.
The most common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are:
-Tender and swollen joints. Rheumatoid arthritis often begins in the joints of the hands and feet. As the disease progresses, symptoms often spread to other joints.
-Joint stiffness that is usually worse in the mornings and after inactivity.
-Fatigue, fever and weight loss.
-Patients often receive medications from their rheumatologist to reduce the disease process, but many do not know that there are many treatment options for pain related to rheumatoid arthritis.
When you arrive at National Spine & Pain Centers, we can provide testing to assess for rheumatoid arthritis if an inflammatory process is suspected. If your National Spine & Pain Centers provider suspects rheumatoid arthritis, you will be referred to a rheumatologist who specializes in autoimmune disorders. Our board-certified pain specialists can work hand-in-hand with your rheumatologist to develop a treatment plan that will address the pain associated with the disease.
Patients may also arrive to our clinics with a prior confirmed diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, and have been living with pain for many months are years, unaware of the varied treatment options available to treat pain. Our medical team will begin with an overall health assessment, including:
-A complete medical history and physical exam to assess joint weakness and pain.
-X-rays, ultrasounds or MRIs as needed in combination with your primary care provider and Rheumatologist to determine the cause of the pain.
Treatment of Pain Associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis
Although there is currently no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, National Spine & Pain Centers can develop a plan to treat the pain associated with the disease, including:
-Oral medications to address pain at any stage of the disease or during flare-ups.
-Bracing to varied joints most affected to reduce pain and increase function
-Direct interventional pain techniques –nerve blocks and nerve ablation, corticosteroid or liquid cartilage injections to the joints, and peripheral nerve and spinal cord stimulation.
-Alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, aquatherapy, biofeedback or massage.
-Physical therapy to increase strength and flexibility in the affected joints.
-Occupational therapy to learn skills that help you adapt to the limitations of the disease.
In addition, your rheumatologist may prescribe a special class of drugs designed to slow the progression of the disease and prevent further damage to your body’s joints and other tissues.