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Home » Health A-Z » Rheumatoid Arthritis Skip Navigation Links
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arthritis, inflammatory disease

What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder and is considered to be one of the most crippling forms of arthritis. RA involves chronic inflammation of the peripheral joints; the wrists, toes, fingers, joints, and knees. RA affects more than 6.5 million people in the United States and is more common in women than men.

Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

An early diagnosis of RA lends to more effective treatment and relief methods. For this reason, it is important to take note of some of the most common symptoms associated with RA.

Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis include:

  • Pain of the joints
  • Inflammation of joints
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Redness and warmth of joints
  • Stiffness
  • Weakness
  • General sense of being unwell
  • Limited function and sometimes loss of mobility
  • Damage to join cartilage
  • Visible deformities
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of appetite
  • Low-grade fever

The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis come and go, depending on the degree of tissue inflammation. When body tissues are inflamed, the disease is active. When tissue inflammation subsides, the disease is inactive (in remission). Remissions can occur spontaneously or with treatment, and can last weeks, months, or years. During remissions, symptoms of the disease disappear, and patients generally feel well. When the disease becomes active again (relapse), symptoms return. The return of disease activity and symptoms is called a flare. The course of rheumatoid arthritis varies from patient to patient, and periods of flares and remissions are typical.

Other Complications of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Since RA is a systemic disease, its inflammation can affect organs and areas of the body other than the joints.

  • Inflammation of the glands of the eyes and mouth can cause dryness of these areas and is referred to as Sjogren's syndrome.
  • Rheumatoid inflammation of the lung lining (pleuritis) causes chest pain with deep breathing or coughing. The lung tissue itself can also become inflamed, and sometimes nodules of inflammation (rheumatoid nodules) develop within the lungs.
  • Inflammation of the tissue (pericardium) surrounding the heart, called pericarditis, can cause a chest pain that typically changes in intensity when lying down or leaning forward.
  • RA can reduce the number of red blood cells (anemia) and white blood cells. Decreased white cells can be associated with an enlarged spleen (referred to as Felty's syndrome) and can increase the risk of infections.
  • Firm lumps under the skin (rheumatoid nodules) can occur around the elbows and fingers where there is frequent pressure. Even though these nodules usually do not cause symptoms, occasionally they can become infected.
  • A rare, serious complication, usually with long-standing rheumatoid disease, is blood-vessel inflammation (vasculitis). Vasculitis can impair blood supply to tissues and lead to tissue death. This is most often initially visible as tiny black areas around the nail beds or as leg ulcers.

Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Scientific research suggests that Rheumatoid arthritis is most likely a culmination of several factors that involve environmental, genetic and hormonal factors.

  • Genetic Factors: Researchers conclude that the development of Rheumatoid arthritis is co-related with that of specific hereditary genes. It is seen that up to 30% of the second twins are prone to developing Rheumatoid arthritis in the near future.
  • Environmental Factors play a pivotal role in developing RA to bacteria, viral infections or a particular type of food may lead to Rheumatoid arthritis in some parts of the body.
  • Hormonal Factors: Often excessive of hormones, like estrogen and progesterone, lead to development of Rheumatoid arthritis. In some cases women contract the disease as a result of pregnancy, during which excessive hormones may be released temporarily.

Risk Factors of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Risk factors for Rheumatoid arthritis are factors that do not seem to be a direct cause of the disease, but seem to be associated in some way with the disease. Having a risk factor for RA makes the chances of getting the condition higher but this does not always lead to the condition. Also, the absence of any risk factors or having a protective factor does not necessarily guard you from getting RA.

Risk Factors that may make a person more prone to contracting Rheumatoid arthritis are:

  • Women are more prone to the disease.
  • RA is often an age related syndrome. People in the age group of 40 to 60 are prone to contracting the disease.
  • A family history of RA, may be the prime cause of developing the disease. It is believed that a person might inherit a predisposition for RA.
  • Smokers are at a higher risk of having RA.

Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis at Patients Medical in NYC

Patients Medical provides the most comprehensive integrative and personalized treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis in NYC. Treatment for Arthritis includes:

  • Expert physicians: A personal consultation with one of our expert physicians will help initiate your personalized treatment program.
  • Highly specialized testing: Testing at Patients Medical for patients with symptoms or previous diagnoses of Rheumatoid Arthritis will include tests for autoimmune markers as well as hormonal imbalances, vitamin deficiencies, heavy metals, toxins and many other specialized tests.
    It is important to understand that Rheumatoid Arthritis does not just affect your joints. Working with a physician at Patients Medical who understands the scope of the disease and the toll it can take on your whole body is vital.
  • Nutrient IV Therapy: Patients Medical’s personalized IV treatment protocols can be helpful for patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis to decrease inflammation, boost the immune system and help with discomfort.
  • Osteopathic Medicine: Patients Medical’s Osteopathic physicians are highly trained to help patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Interventional pain management and Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment can also be highly successful for patients looking to avoid prescription pain medication and/or surgical intervention.
  • Acupuncture: Patients Medical offers Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine to help reduce the symptoms cause by Rheumatoid Arthritis.
  • Stem Cell Therapy: The New York Stem Cell Treatment Center at Patients Medical is taking part in a nation-wide human clinical trial. Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis are encouraged to participate, as this therapy can help regrow cartilage and relieve pain. >>Click here to learn more about the trial.
  • Natural Supplements: Patients Medical’s natural supplement shop provides supplements that help support healthy joints and relief of related symptoms including:

    Essential Fish Oil

    Soothe and Relax

    Kaprex