Rheumatoid Arthritis: More than Joint Pain

At least one in four adults has some form of arthritis. Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis, with gout running second. The third most common form is rheumatoid arthritis, which is estimated to affect 1.3 million Americans, two-thirds of which are women. 

Dr. Philip Regala’s orthopedic offices are located in Naples, Florida. He can help diagnose your arthritis and recommend the best form of treatment for the type of arthritis you have. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, Dr. Regala can coordinate with your entire medical team to get you the specialized care you need. 

Three most common forms of arthritis

Arthritis usually presents initially as joint pain. The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which is caused by normal wear-and-tear on your joints as you age. Cartilage wears down, fluid in your joints decreases, and bones start to create painful friction as they rub together inside the joint capsule. OA most commonly shows up in the spine, hips, knees, and hands.

Gout affects your knees, ankles, wrists, fingers, and toes. A classic case of gout involves the big toe joint, which can become so swollen and painful that the toe almost dislocates. It’s caused by accumulation of uric acid in your blood, which forms crystals in your joints.

Both osteoarthritis and gout cause significant joint pain. However, with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), you’ll probably have many other symptoms. That’s because rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic, autoimmune disease. While joint pain is still a large part of RA, it can also affect other parts of your body, including:

Symptoms of RA

The earliest symptom of RA that you’ll notice is usually joint pain. Unlike OA, though, which is primarily unilateral, joint pain from RA often involves multiple joints on both sides of your body at once. However, as your immune system goes into overdrive, more RA symptoms show up, such as:

Your RA may worsen periodically in what are known as “flares,” which can be triggered by stress or infection. Dr. Regala can help you find ways to minimize your symptoms. He might recommend either or both of the following:

Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)

DMARDs act on the immune system to reduce inflammation. They slow the progression of your disease and can help protect tissues from permanent damage.

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP)

PRP injections can also have a positive impact on your health if you have RA. The growth factors help to regulate inflammation, and may even be able to boost healing inside your joints.

To learn more about RA and its treatments, contact our office at 239-325-1131, or book an appointment online.

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