Kaplan MacLean Rheumatology
Rheumatologists located in Encinitas, CA
The chronic pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis can have a major impact on your overall quality of life. At Kaplan MacLean Rheumatology, Natalie Maclean, MD, offers advanced and personalized care for men and women in Encinitas, California, with chronic autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis. To find an expert rheumatologist you can trust, call Kaplan MacLean Rheumatology or schedule an appointment online today.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Q & A
What is rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a type of chronic autoimmune disease that can affect several parts of your body, including your joints, eyes, skin, heart and blood vessels, and lungs. This immune system malfunction causes your body to attack healthy tissue.
Unlike osteoarthritis, which develops when cartilage covering the ends of your joints break down, rheumatoid arthritis occurs in the lining of your joints, or synovium. This inflammation leads to several painful symptoms and can cause your bones to deteriorate, deform, or shift out of alignment.
What are the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis?
The most common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis involve the joints and affect both sides of your body. Symptoms may include:
- Swelling, warmth, and tenderness
- Stiffness, especially after periods of inactivity or upon waking
- Unexplained weight loss, fever, and fatigue
In most rheumatoid arthritis cases, you notice symptoms in smaller joints of your body first, especially those in your fingers and toes. These symptoms usually then spread to other joints like your knees, ankles, hips, and shoulders as your condition advances.
Approximately 40% of men and women with rheumatoid arthritis have symptoms affecting other areas of their body, such as their lungs, heart, kidneys, blood vessels, and nerve tissue.
What causes rheumatoid arthritis?
The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis isn’t known, but it could be associated with genetic characteristics which leave you more vulnerable to environmental factors that can trigger the rheumatic disease, like bacterial and viral infections.
Additional components that can increase your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis include:
- A family history of the condition
- Being a woman or between 40-60 years of age
- Exposure to certain materials, like silica or asbestos
- Smoking cigarettes
- Being overweight or obese
When left untreated, rheumatoid arthritis can increase your risk of other health conditions as well, including osteoporosis, heart problems, lung disease, and blood cancers.
How is rheumatoid arthritis treated?
There’s no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, but Dr. MacLean can help manage your condition based on your diagnosis. Your personalized approach for your care might include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroid medications, or joint injections
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
- Biologic agents that target your immune system to reduce inflammation
- Physical or occupational therapy to increase your joint flexibility
To effectively manage rheumatoid arthritis holistically, Dr. MacLean also offers lifestyle recommendations that can include regular exercise, a healthy diet, and stress management
Call Kaplan MacLean Rheumatology or schedule an appointment online today if rheumatoid arthritis is having a debilitating effect on your quality of life.