Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) of the Foot and Ankle (Arthritis Foundation Approved)
Rheumatoid Arthritis of the Foot and Ankle
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) of the foot and ankle is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and pain in joints throughout the body. When RA develops, the immune system mistakes healthy cells for dangerous substances in the lining of the joints. When the immune system attacks, it degrades the lining of the joints, which can lead to many painful symptoms.
Is There a Cause for RA?
In short, doctors and medical researchers have been unable to isolate a specific cause for RA. On a larger level, the immune system of a person with RA does not function properly. With this type of autoimmune condition, the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells. RA typically inflames the synovium, which is a soft tissue membrane that lines joints through the human body.
What are the Symptoms of RA?
Even in the absence of a specific cause for RA, patients with this condition usually experience common symptoms. At the onset, symptoms may be slight, only affecting smaller joints. Though the severity of these symptoms tends to increase as RA progresses.
The common symptoms of RA often include:
- Soreness or stiffness in the morning, particularly if lasting for 30 minutes or more;
- inflammation, pain, or tenderness, particularly if lasting for six weeks or more;
- Pain, soreness, or stiffness in multiple joints at the same time; or
- General fatigue, lack of energy, and low-level fever.
How is RA Diagnosed?
When a patient demonstrates any of the common symptoms of RA, a qualified medical professional will ordinarily start with a physical examination. During this process, the medical professional will typically assess inflammation and swelling as well as test range of motion and strength.
In addition to the physical examination, a qualified medical professional may need to conduct blood tests for certain proteins or antibodies. The use of imaging tests — including X-rays, ultrasounds, and MRIs — are also common in the diagnostic process for RA.
Is it Possible to Treat RA?
From an overarching standpoint, yes, it is possible to treat and manage the symptoms of RA. But is it essential for a qualified medical professional to assess and execute treatment options. Given the severity and complexity of RA, it is inadvisable to engage in self-treatment of this condition.
After administering a complete diagnosis, a qualified medical professional might recommend any of the following treatment options for RA:
- NSAIDs — These .non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can reduce inflammation and pain in either over-the-counter or prescription strength;
- Steroids — These steroidal medications can assist with inflammation and pain management, often combatting acute flare-ups of RA;
- DMARDs — These disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) can decelerate RA progression and safeguard against deformities;
- Biologicals — These biological response modifiers are substances that can either encourage or discourage the immune system from doing certain things;
- Therapy — Occupational and physical therapy can help patients improve mobility and strength or adjust improper posture and technique; or
- Surgery — If all other methods are ineffective, a doctor might need to conduct surgery to repair, fuse, or replace damaged mechanisms.
Do You Have Signs or Symptoms of RA?
If you are suffering from any of the signs or symptoms of RA, it can be markedly productive to have a consultation with an established orthopaedic physician. At the Orthopaedic Associates of Riverside, we have board-certified surgeons with an express focus on orthopaedic medicine, including RA and other forms of arthritis. If you need medical assistance with RA, contact us today to schedule an appointment.