Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes damage to the lining of your joints. If you have RA, you may experience persistent inflammation and joint pain — specifically in your wrists, hands, ankles, and feet. However, the inflammation can damage other parts of your body, too, including your eyes, skin, kidney, lungs, and heart. RA tends to occur more in women than men. It’s closely linked to family history.
Dignity Health offers personal care to diagnose and treat rheumatoid arthritis in Merced County and surrounding areas. Our experienced orthopedists use the latest treatments and will work with you to find relief that works for your lifestyle.
Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system attacks healthy tissues in your body. Risk factors for RA include genetics, hormones, smoking, and certain infections.
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
In the early stages of RA, your symptoms may develop gradually and become worse as time goes on. You may notice joint stiffness in the morning, along with fatigue, loss of appetite, weakness, and general muscle aches.
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may also include:
- Joint stiffness and swelling
- Joint pain and tenderness
- Swollen, warm joints
Less frequent RA symptoms may include:
- Swollen glands
- Skin redness and inflammation
- Nodules under your skin
- Eye or nerve pain
Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosis
At Dignity Health, our orthopedists are experts in diagnosing conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. We will assess your health and medical history, perform a physical exam, and order X-rays and blood tests to diagnose RA. Early on, X-rays may not show anything unusual. As the disease progresses, tests will reveal changes or damage to your joint or joints. We can help track the progression and manage your symptoms with a personalized treatment plan.
Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis at Mercy Medical Center
While there’s no complete cure for RA, there are many treatments options that can reduce and delay joint damage. At your initial consultation, your doctor may recommend medications, changes to your lifestyle, and, in some cases, surgery to correct deformities or replace a damaged joint. A combination of drugs may help reduce inflammation, slow the progression of the disease, and control your symptoms.
Other therapies to relieve RA symptoms may include hot and cold treatments, acupuncture, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. Talk with a professional at Dignity Health about ways to ease your symptoms with a rheumatoid arthritis diet and exercise.
Dignity Health offers compassionate care for rheumatoid arthritis in Merced County and the surrounding areas.