What Are Tips For Living With Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Early and aggressive treatment tends to result in an optimal outcome.
- Understand how your rheumatoid arthritis, as well as the effects and side effects of its treatment, will be monitored.
- Maintain a working relationship with your treating doctor. Consider consulting with a rheumatologist.
- Have a game plan for addressing flare-ups of rheumatoid inflammation.
- Preplan your treatment options for travel with your doctor.
- Review with your doctor any concerns about your rheumatoid arthritis, its influence on your lifestyle activities, your avocations, and your long-term life goals.
Where Can I See Allied Health Professionals And How Much Will It Cost
If your GP refers you to a health professional as part of a care plan, you may be able to have five sessions per year funded by Medicare. Ask your GP for more information.
- The public system: Most health professionals are available in the public health system . There is often a waiting list, and you will usually need a referral from your GP. Their services are usually free or low cost.
- The private system: You can consult any of these health professionals at private clinics without a referral from your GP. The cost of a private consultation varies with the type of health professional and may cost from $30 to $100. These costs may be covered in part by private health insurance.
These Doctors May Be Your Doctor For Life
Some specialists consult on your diagnosis and treatment plan, then send you back to your primary care doctor for most follow-up care. Not true for rheumatologists.
After making sure we have the right diagnosis, we obtain the appropriate lab work to make sure youre safe starting medication, and then see you every two to three months. Some people require less frequent follow-up, but we typically see patients more than their primary care doctors. In fact, we might become their primary care doctors, says rheumatologist Liana Fraenkel, MD, MPH, adjunct professor of medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine.
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Do I Need To Go To A Rheumatologist Or An Orthopedist
With so much overlap between medical disciplines and specializations, it is often difficult for an individual to discern which type of doctor to see for their problem.
This is especially true for orthopedics and rheumatology, as both of these types of physicians treat joint pain.
Orthopedists are surgeons who address bone and joint diseases and injuries, such as arthritis, osteoarthritis, and body trauma. Rheumatologists are internal medicine physicians who focus on autoimmune conditions and the non-surgical treatment of such diseases, such as arthritis, where medications and/or physical therapy can provide the proper treatment.
It is important to understand the areas these two specialties cover in order to make an informed decision.
Why Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Set In
The immune system is designed to produce antibodies to protect the body during illness. When bacteria, virus and other aggressive disease-causing agents enter the body, the antibodies attack and destroy them.
But for people with a faulty immune system, antibodies are produced even when there are no health problems. These antibodies then attack the cells of the bodies and destroy the body from the inside.
Rheumatoid arthritis is one such autoimmune disease. The immune system gets confused about the possibility of a bone/joint condition and it releases antibodies that start attacking the cells and the lining of the joints. This attack weakens the joints and causes extensive damage.
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What Are The Symptoms
Women are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than men, and the disease usually begins between the ages of 30 and 60. Rheumatoid arthritis often affects the hands, and usually affects both hands, as well as other joints like wrists, elbows, knees, and hips. Symptoms include joint pain, swelling and in some cases, heat or redness. The joint gradually becomes less mobile and may also become deformed.
What Are Rheumatoid Arthritis Risks And Complications
Since rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic disease, its inflammation can affect organs and areas of the body other than the joints.
There is no singular test for diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis. The diagnosis is based on the clinical presentation. Ultimately, rheumatoid arthritis is diagnosed based on a combination of the following:
- Presentation of the joints involved
- Characteristic joint swelling and stiffness in the morning
- The presence of blood rheumatoid factor and citrulline antibody
- The presence of rheumatoid nodules and radiographic changes
Understand that many forms of joint disease mimic rheumatoid arthritis.
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Routine Monitoring And Ongoing Care
Regular medical care is important because your doctor can:
- Monitor how the disease is progressing.
- Determine how well the medications are working.
- Talk to you about any side the effects from the medications.
- Adjust your treatment as needed.
Monitoring typically includes regular visits to the doctor. It also may include blood and urine tests, and xrays. Having rheumatoid arthritis increases your risk of developing osteoporosis, particularly if you take corticosteroids. Osteoporosis is a bone disease that causes the bones to weaken and easily break. Talk to your doctor about your risk for the disease and the potential benefits of calcium and vitamin D supplements or other osteoporosis treatments.
How To Prepare For Your First Appointment
Your first appointment will ultimately set the tone for your RA treatment plan. Therefore, preparation is key to making sure your rheumatologist has all of the information needed to treat your symptoms properly. Not having enough information can result in more appointments and perhaps further diagnostic testing to get the data your doctor needs.
First, make sure you can provide a thorough account of your symptoms. It can help to have a journal or notepad detailing key things, such as:
- when your symptoms started
- when the last time you were totally well was
- if there was an event preceding the onset of symptoms
- how your symptoms have changed
- whether your symptoms have worsened or spread to other joints
- which joints bother you the most right now
- how your symptoms affect everyday activities
- certain activities or movements that worsen your symptoms
- if theres certain normal daily functions that have become difficult
Since RA is an autoimmune disorder, genetics are thought to play a role in its development. This means that you might have a family history of autoimmune disorders. Your relatives may not necessarily have RA, however.
RA is thought to be related to a gene called HLA-DR4. Ask your family members about the possibility of RA or other autoimmune disorders that exist in the family. Youll also want to provide your doctor with details surrounding your personal family history, including any other underlying diseases you might have.
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Your Joints And Rheumatoid Arthritis
Joints are places where bones meet. Bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons all work together so that you can bend, twist, stretch and move about.
The ends of your bones are covered in a thin layer of cartilage. It acts like a slippery cushion absorbing shock and helping your joint move smoothly.
The joint is wrapped inside a tough capsule filled with synovial fluid. This fluid lubricates and nourishes the cartilage and other structures in the joint.
When you have rheumatoid arthritis:
- your immune system attacks your joints, which causes:
- a build-up of synovial fluid
- inflammation of the tissues that line the joint
- pain, heat and swelling
They Are Specialists Who Like What They Do
According to a 2018 survey, if rheumatologists had it to do over again, four out of five them would choose to be a doctor and three out of four would choose the same specialty. That satisfaction may be because they can see the impact they make on patients lives and well-being.
If you treat someones high blood pressure and cholesterol, youre helping in the long term to prevent heart disease and stroke, but the patient doesnt feel anything unless they have side effects from the medication. When you treat someone with arthritis and you relieve their pain, they wake up feeling better and normal, and that is the wonderful part about being a physician and a rheumatologist, says Dr. Marchetta.
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Why Do People With Arthritis Have Joint Surgery
Most types of surgery for arthritis are performed to:
- relieve severe pain that has not responded to other treatments
- improve movement and use of a joint, for example improve flexibility of your hip to allow you to walk and sit more comfortably
- improve alignment of joints, for example straighten finger joints to allow you to grip and hold objects.
This can help make daily activities easier and improve your quality of life.
All surgery has risks. Make sure you understand the possible risks, their likelihood and their consequences before you decide to have surgery.
What Are Blood Tests Used For
Your doctor may use blood tests to help:
- confirm a diagnosis: Blood tests can help diagnose some types of arthritis.
- monitor disease severity and response to treatment: Your doctor may use blood tests to determine whether your arthritis is responding to the medicines you are taking.
- check for side effects from medicines: Some side effects of medicines do not cause any obvious symptoms until significant damage has been done. Your doctor may use blood tests to check for side effects before they become major problems.
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Naturopathic Treatments For Rheumatoid Arthritis
The function of the immune system is to protect the body against foreign cells such as viruses and bacteria which can cause illness.
In people with autoimmune conditions, the body mistakes cells belonging the body for foreign invaders and because of this case of mistaken identity the body starts to attack itself.
Today we will take a closer look at one of these conditions, rheumatoid arthritis, as well as some natural solutions for autoimmune conditions.
Keep reading to learn more.
Neurologist Vs Rheumatologist Vs Orthopedist Vs Pain Doctor
If your knee pain is undiagnosed, you might be wondering where to start. Whether you have chronic knee pain or an acute knee injury, dont wait any longer for treatment. The knee is a crucial part of mobility, and letting knee pain go untreated increases the risk of irreparable damage, or further injury that will require surgery.
Knee pain is caused by a wide variety of things, including wear and tear, excess weight, a knee injury, the wrong shoes, or conditions like arthritis or bursitis. Knee joint pain can be ongoing, or strike suddenly, depending on the cause. While some causes of knee pain require a rheumatologist, many do not. Thats why proper diagnosis and treatment are crucial at the onset of pain.
Rheumatologists can treat arthritis of the knee joint, but they dont treat knee pain stemming from things like fracture or a torn ligament or meniscus. Orthopedic surgeons and neurologists also treat some specific types of knee pain, but their treatment options often involve invasive surgery, and should only be used after consultation with a pain specialist.
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Know Your Disease : Arthritis
Nowadays, cases of arthritis have reached shocking proportions. If youve never heard about the diseases, worry not. Here are some pieces of information concerning the ailment. Firstly, there are three main types of arthritis, namely
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Osteoarthritis and
- Psoriatic arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which a patient experiences painful inflammations on their joints.
On the other hand, Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis where the cartilage peels off with time. Last but not least, the Psoriatic arthritis is a severe kind of arthritis which affects patients with psoriasis.
Education And Training Requirements
According to the American College of Rheumatology, before a rheumatologist can start treating patients, they must fulfill the following education and training requirements:
- graduate from a medical school
- complete a residency program
- participate in a rheumatology fellowship
After completing a Rheumatology fellowship program, they must pass a board examination and receive a certificate to practice rheumatology. Rheumatologists must also participate in continuing education courses throughout their careers.
A rheumatologist can choose to treat specific rheumatic conditions or narrow their focus to a particular area, or subspecialty, within rheumatology.
in the field of rheumatology include:
- autoimmune and inflammatory conditions
Rheumatologists perform examinations and procedures that help them diagnose and treat rheumatic conditions.
These procedures include:
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What To Expect At A First Visit
A routine appointment with a rheumatologist varies depending on the condition or complaint they are helping to treat. A standard appointment may include a rheumatologist:
- reviewing a persons medical and family histories as well as the results of any previous testing or laboratory work
- performing a physical exam to look for any signs of systemic inflammation
- evaluating posture, movement, and flexibility
- examining any specific joints, muscles, or bones that feel swollen, stiff, or painful
- ordering blood work or other laboratory tests, such as an X-ray or MRI scan, to provide clinical diagnosis
- making treatment recommendations, or waiting to review the lab work before recommending medications or physical therapy
- providing a clinical outlook, plans of care, and short- and long-term goals
- recommending self-management tips and home exercises
Why Choose An Internal Medicine Physician
Arthritis is a complex condition that can be difficult to diagnose. Internal medicine doctors are trained in the diagnosis and treatment of such conditions. They will be able to distinguish the symptoms of arthritis from other conditions.
Internal medicine physicians have a thorough understanding of the types of medical treatments arthritis patients need. They can prescribe medications and administer injections to reduce pain and inflammation caused by arthritis. They also understand the complexities of the human body and can recommend treatments that will best suit your body.
Another added benefit of getting your arthritis treated by an internal medicine physician is that you can get medical care for other conditions at the same time. It can be a hassle and time consuming to juggle multiple doctors and visit different offices for every medical need you have. Fortunately, internal medicine physicians are qualified to treat all types of conditions and can take care of a variety of health issues you may be having not just arthritis.
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When Should I See A Rheumatologist
If your primary care physician recommends a rheumatologist or orthopedic surgeon, visit Pain Treatment Specialists first. Your knee pain might not be caused by Rheumatoid Arthritis. There are many types of arthritis, and many additional causes of knee pain. Many primary care physicians lack the time and equipment necessary to pinpoint the cause of knee pain. Our treatment plans are faster, safer, and more effective than many treatments offered by surgeons and primary care physicians. We prevent the use of narcotic medicine and invasive surgery by using more effective techniques, backed by our Ivy League training.
Should I See A Rheumatologist For Osteoarthritis
Arthritis is a broad term, including over 100 forms of the disease. The cause and manifestation of each form is different. For example, Osteoarthritis is caused by wear and tear, and is a degenerative form of disease, more common in older patients. By contrast, Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease in which your immune cells attack healthy cells in your body by mistake and can occur in younger patients. While a rheumatologist is sometimes necessary with RA, they are not required to successfully treat OA or many other forms of arthritis.
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Do You Need A Referral To See A Rheumatologist
Before seeking a rheumatologist or orthopedic near me, know that you might need a referral, and might also wait a while to be seen. In many cases, your knee pain can be treated more quickly and effectively by a knee pain management doctor without a referral. Pain Treatment Specialists board certified team relieves pain within minutes, through techniques that diagnose and treat pain simultaneously. We have multiple convenient locations to accommodate patients quickly. Dont wait months to be seen by a rheumatologist, book an appointment with our pain specialists today! We can diagnose arthritis, as well as anything else causing your knee pain.
Orthopedic Vs Rheumatologist Treatment Options
One key difference in the treatment options of orthopedic doctors and rheumatologists is that some orthopedists perform surgery, while rheumatologists do not. Rheumatologists typically offer a combination of anti-inflammatory medicines and lifestyle suggestions to alleviate autoimmune symptoms, and you will usually need to see a rheumatologist on an ongoing basis, depending on your condition.
A pain treatment specialist offers the best treatments of rheumatology and orthopedics, but adds additional, safer treatment options. For example, like rheumatologists, pain specialists avoid surgery. But they also offer targeted pain relief in the form of corticosteroid injections, genicular nerve blocks, and radiofrequency ablation. Rather than treating pain systemically with opioids or invasive procedures, they eliminate pain at the source. Rheumatologists, orthopedists, and pain specialists treat some similar conditions, but their scope and type of treatments is quite different. Here are examples of the differences.
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Rheumatologists Treat More Than 120 Different Diseases
Dont let the rheum in the name fool you. Besides rheumatoid arthritis , these doctors treat a wide variety of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases that may affect the joints , as well as other muscle or bone problems or injuries that can make your joints hurt and limit your function.
In addition to the systemic diseases, people may come to see a rheumatologist to diagnose chronic back or neck pain or for a localized joint or muscle or tendon problem such as tennis elbow or Achilles tendonitis, says Paula Marchetta, MD, MBA, president of the American College of Rheumatology. They also treat other conditions that you might be unaware of, such as osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, and Lyme disease.