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3D Precision Therapy - How We Treat Your Rheumatoid Arthritis

Basic Knowledge About Rheumatoid Arthritis

What’s rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that can cause joint pain and damage throughout your body.

The joint damage that RA causes usually happens on both sides of the body.So, if a joint is affected in one of your arms or legs, the same joint in the other arm or leg will probably be affected, too. This is one way that doctors distinguish RA from other forms of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis (OA).

Treatments work best when RA is diagnosed early, so it’s important to learn the signs.

Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms

RA is a chronic disease marked by symptoms of inflammation and pain in the joints. These symptoms and signs occur during periods known as flares or exacerbations. Other times are known as periods of remission — this is when symptoms disappear completely.

While RA symptoms can affect several organs in the body, the joint symptoms of RA include:

  • joint pain
  • joint swelling
  • joint stiffness
  • loss of joint function and deformities

Symptoms can vary from mild to severe. It’s important not to ignore your symptoms, even if they come and go. Knowing the early signs of RA will help you and your healthcare provider better treat and manage it.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosis

Diagnosing RA can take time and may require multiple lab tests to confirm clinical examination findings. Your healthcare provider will use several tools to diagnose RA.

First, they’ll ask about your symptoms and medical history. They’ll also perform a physical exam of your joints. This will include:

  • looking for swelling and redness
  • examining joint function and range of motion
  • touching the affected joints to check for warmth and tenderness
  • testing your reflexes and muscle strength

If they suspect RA, they’ll most likely refer you to a specialist called a rheumatologist.
Since no single test can confirm a diagnosis of RA, your healthcare provider or rheumatologist may use several different types of tests.

They may test your blood for certain substances like antibodies, or check the level of certain substances like acute phase reactantsTrusted Source that are elevated during inflammatory conditions. These can be a sign of RA and help support the diagnosis.

They may also request certain imaging tests, such as an ultrasound, X-ray, or MRI.

Tests not only show if joint damage has occurred but also how severe the damage is.

A complete evaluation and monitoring of other organ systems might be recommended for some people with RA, too.

Blood tests for rheumatoid arthritis

There are several types of blood tests that help your healthcare provider or rheumatologist determine whether you have RA. These tests include:

  • Rheumatoid factor test. The RF blood test checks for a protein called rheumatoid factor. High levels of rheumatoid factor are associated with autoimmune diseases, especially RA.
  • Anticitrullinated protein antibody test (anti-CCP). This test looks for an antibody that’s associated with RA. People who have this antibody usually have the disease. However, not everyone with RA tests positive for this antibody. The anti-CCP Ab is more specific for RA than the RF test
  • Antinuclear antibody test. The antinuclear antibody panel tests your immune system to see if it’s producing antibodies. Your body may make antibodies as a response to many different types of conditions, including RA.
  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate. The ESR test helps determine the degree of inflammation in your body. The result tells your doctor whether inflammation is present. However, it doesn’t indicate the cause of the inflammation.
  • C-reactive protein test. A severe infection or significant inflammation anywhere in your body can trigger your liver to make C-reactive protein. High levels of this inflammatory marker are associated with RA.

Rheumatoid arthritis treatment

here’s no cure for RA, but there are treatments that can help you manage it.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can keep both patients and physicians on their toes as they figure out the best ways to treat the symptoms and slow the progression of the condition.

Recently, advances in treatment strategies have resulted in ever-improving outcomes and quality of life for those with rheumatoid arthritis. Treat to Target Rheumatoid Arthritis is a treatment philosophy that rheumatologists use to effectively manage this disease.

The treat-to-target approach has resulted in fewer symptoms and higher remission rates for those with RA. The treatment strategy involves:

  • setting a specific testing goal that signals either remission or low disease state
  • testing acute phase reactants and performing monthly monitoring to assess progress of treatment and management plan
  • switching medication regimen promptly if progress isn’t made.

Treatments for RA help to manage the pain and control the inflammatory response which can in many cases result in remission. Decreasing the inflammation can also help to prevent further joint and organ damage.

Treatments may include:

  • medications
  • alternative or home remedies
  • dietary changes
  • specific types of exercise

Your healthcare provider will work with you to determine the best treatment plan for your medical needs.

For many people, these treatments help them live an active life and reduce the risk of long-term complications.

Rheumatoid arthritis medications

There are many types of medication for RA. Some of these medications help to reduce the pain and inflammation of RA. Some help to reduce flares and limit the damage that RA does to your joints.
The following over-the-counter medications help reduce the pain and inflammation during RA flares:

  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • corticosteroids
  • acetaminophen

The following drugs work to slow the damage that RA can cause to your body:

  • Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). DMARDs work by blocking your body’s immune system response. This helps to slow down the progression of RA.
  • Biologics. These new generation biologic DMARDs provide a targetedresponse to inflammation rather than blocking your body’s entire immune system response. They may be an effective treatment for people who don’t respond to more traditional DMARDs.
  • Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors. These are a new subcategory of DMARDs that block certain immune responses. These are drugs that your healthcare provider may use to help prevent inflammation and stop damage to your joints when DMARDs and biologic DMARDs don’t work for you.

Home remedies for rheumatoid arthritis

Certain home remedies and lifestyle adjustments may help to improve your quality of life when living with RA. This includes exercise, rest, and assistive devices.


Low-impact exercises can help to improve the range of motion in your joints and increase your mobility. Exercise can also strengthen muscles, which can help to relieve some of the pressure from your joints.

You may also want to try gentle yoga which can help you regain strength and flexibility.
Get enough rest

You may need more rest during flare-ups and less during remission. Getting enough sleep will help to reduce inflammation and pain as well as fatigue.

Apply heat or cold

Ice packs or cold compresses can help to reduce inflammation and pain. They may also be effective against muscle spasms.
You can alternate cold with hot treatments such as warm showers and hot compresses. This may help to reduce stiffness.

Try assistive devices

Certain devices such as splints and braces can hold your joints in a resting position. This may help to reduce inflammation.

Canes and crutches can help you maintain mobility, even during flares. You can also install household devices, such as grab bars and handrails in bathrooms and along staircases.

Shop home remedies

  • ice packs
  • canes
  • grab bars
  • handrails
  • NSAIDs