Everyone experiences joint and musculoskeletal pain occasionally. When the pain and inflammation become frequent companions, you start to wonder if you could have arthritis. While that’s possible, you could also have one of more than 100 rheumatic diseases other than arthritis. All rheumatic diseases are difficult to identify in the early stages. That’s why it makes sense to see a Rheumatologist rather than a general medical doctor as soon as possible
Preventing or Slowing the Progression of Rheumatoid Arthritis
As a common autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis causes your body’s immune system to attack the lining of your joints that prevents bone and cartilage from rubbing together. This results in pain and swelling that can make everyday tasks a challenge to perform.
Rheumatology is a healthcare specialty that assists people with joint pain and related problems to improve their quality of life. Your specialist will help you identify lifestyle factors that could contribute to your symptoms, such as smoking, being overweight or exposure to environmental hazards like silica or asbestos.
Rheumatoid arthritis most frequently affects women, people between 40 and 60 years old and those who have a close biological relative with the disease. While you can’t control these factors, you and your Rheumatologist can work together to reduce your symptoms.
Uncover Hidden Factors Causing Your Flare-Ups
Sometimes you don’t make a connection between the symptoms you’re experiencing and rheumatoid arthritis or another joint disease. While some like pain and fatigue are obvious, others such as anxiety and insomnia are not. If you find that you have trouble managing your emotions, falling asleep or staying asleep, it’s worth a trip to your rheumatology clinic to find out if there’s a connection between your less obvious symptoms and your disease. It’s worth noting that an unhealthy diet can cause a worsening of symptoms as well.
Develop an Action Plan to Live Your Best Life
Once you have visited a joint pain specialist, completed a medical history, undergone testing and received the results, it’s time to decide what to do next. Some patients do well on a prescription drug known as methotrexate. It’s also possible that you could find good symptom relief with non-prescription pain relievers like ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen or a prescription of low-dose corticosteroids. It may take some trial and error to determine the right medication for you, especially if your rheumatoid arthritis is more advanced. Controlling your weight, getting enough exercise, and physical therapy are also useful.
Change Your Treatment Plan if Needed
If you experience new symptoms or your medication doesn’t seem effective any longer, don’t hesitate to discuss this with your Rheumatologist. They can help you come up with a new treatment plan, change your medication or increase the strength of your medication.
Talk to your doctor today about how the Arthritis Center of Lexington can help. We are accepting referrals for new patients.