What to Do After a Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosis
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a disorder that primarily attacks the joints, causing stiffness, swelling, and discomfort. Yet, unlike osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, RA is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s own immune system attacks healthy tissue, creating antibodies to normal cells. These antibodies create an inflammatory response, which can target not only the joints but also other tissues throughout the body.
In particular, the immune system attacks the membrane linings known as synovium which surround the joints in RA. As the synovium thickens due to the inflammation, it compromises cartilage and even bone. Ligaments weaken, leading to misshapen joints and alignment issues.
While RA most commonly first appears between the ages of 40 and 60, you may be diagnosed at any age. The swollen, tender, and painful joints often include the knees, wrists, hands, feet, and elbows. Although osteoarthritis often appears in particular areas of the body, RA can affect the whole body.
Navigating an RA Diagnosis
Being diagnosed with a chronic, progressive disease such as RA can be overwhelming. Yet, it’s important to begin thinking ahead about treatment options immediately after a diagnosis. Because the disease is inflammatory and not mechanical, there’s potential for body-wide symptoms to develop if prompt action isn’t taken.
For instance, the disease can go on to affect other organs, including the eyes, lungs, heart, and blood vessels. Patients may experience fatigue, fever, weight loss, and brain fog. Many RA patients may suffer from a heart attack or stroke, which can be comorbidities of the disease.
Nonetheless, early treatment can make a significant difference in the course of the disease. Some patients find that medications can help to restore function, and treatment may also delay or prevent the development of serious symptoms.
If you’ve been diagnosed with RA, the first step in taking control of your health is partnering with a specialist who can help you explore treatment options. No provider should tell you that the condition is “just” arthritis, or that nothing can be done. There are therapies available, including both medications and non-drug options, which could have a tremendous impact on your quality of life both now and into the future.
Many patients seeking an alternative option to manage their symptoms have considered regenerative medicine, also known as, stem cell therapy for rheumatoid arthritis. This therapy has the potential to help symptoms with the power of mesenchymal stem cells.
This post was written by a medical professional at Stemedix Inc. You can find more information on multiple airborne diseases here.