Could You Be Suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis?

woman's hand receiving physiotherapy

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the joints and certain organs. RA is an autoimmune disorder that is believed to occur when the immune system mistakenly attacks joints and other structures. If you suspect you might be suffering from rheumatoid arthritis or another type of arthritis, you can consult a doctor at your local hospital . Let your doctor know about all of your symptoms and explore the treatment options available to you.

Understanding Your Risk Factors

You may develop RA without having any of the risk factors for it. However, having one or more risk factors does increase the possibility of being diagnosed. Smoking is considered a significant risk factor of RA because it causes chronic inflammation throughout the body. Other risk factors can include negative immune responses to infection and certain genetic variations.

Identifying Your Symptoms

The symptoms of RA are typically present on the same joints on either side of the body. For example, you may experience symptoms in both of your hands. The symptoms typically flare-up, or become worse, in an intermittent fashion. These symptoms can include joint pain and stiffness that is worse in the morning or after physical inactivity. The joints may be swollen, red, and warm to the touch, and they may become deformed. Other potential symptoms of RA can include fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, muscle aches, and sleep disturbances. Rheumatoid nodules, or bumps under the skin, can develop.

Recognizing Potential Complications

If RA is left untreated, patients have a greater risk of suffering from complications. These can include connective tissue disorders and cervical spine dislocation. Respiratory conditions can develop if the inflammatory response in the body causes scar tissue development in the lungs. In addition, the artery walls may become inflamed and cardiovascular problems may develop.

West Hills residents who suffer from joint problems are encouraged to ask a physician at West Hills Hospital about our total joint care package, which includes a pre-operative education class. At our community hospital, you’ll also find comprehensive cancer care, emergency care, maternity services, and burn care. To request a referral to a specialist at our community hospital, call our Consult-A-Nurse line at (818) 676-4000.

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