Rheumatoid Arthritis

Brandon Riverview Medical Associates

Primary Care Practice, Urgent Care, & Weight Loss Center located in Brandon, FL & Riverview, FL

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the most common type of autoimmune condition, affecting about 1.5 million people in the United States. To find relief from the joint pain, swelling, and discomfort associated with RA, visit Brandon Riverview Medical Associates in Brandon and Riverview, Florida. The team offers on-site testing and treatment for RA so you can get answers and find solutions to your pain quickly. Book an appointment online or by phone today to get started.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Q & A

What is rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a type of autoimmune disease in which your immune system malfunctions and attacks your joints, instead of going after bacteria and viruses. As your immune system attacks your joints, it causes inflammation that breaks down the cartilage, ligaments, and tendons within your joints.

RA can cause severe joint damage and deformation if left untreated. The Arthritis Foundation recommends early treatment in all cases of RA to reduce discomfort and prevent disability due to joint deformation.

What causes rheumatoid arthritis?

The exact cause of RA is unknown, though it may have a genetic factor in families. RA develops when your immune system malfunctions and begins identifying healthy tissues in your joints as invading pathogens. Your immune system then attacks your joints, causing pain and other symptoms.

RA is the most common type of autoimmune condition. If left untreated, the damage to your joints caused by your immune system is irreversible, making early treatment especially important.

What are the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis?

In addition to joint pain, swelling, and redness, RA can also cause:

  • Joint pain that lasts more than six weeks
  • Morning stiffness in your joints that lasts longer than 30 minutes
  • More than one joint is affected
  • Small joints in the hands, wrists, feet, and ankles are affected
  • The same joints on both sides of your body are affected

RA occurs in multiple joints on both sides of your body due to the nature of inflammation from the autoimmune condition.

How is rheumatoid arthritis diagnosed and treated?

To diagnose rheumatoid arthritis, the providers at Brandon Riverview Medical Associates examine your joints and may take X-rays or a sample of blood from your arm for testing. Common blood tests for RA look for:

  • Anemia
  • Rheumatoid factor
  • Antibodies to specific proteins related to RA
  • An elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate, which shows inflammation levels

Based on these diagnostic tests, the team prescribes appropriate medications to control inflammation and slow the progress of your RA. Most patients with RA take medications called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). Types of DMARDs include:

  • Methotrexate
  • Leflunomide
  • Hydroxychloroquine
  • Sulfasalazine

Additional medications are available if your symptoms persist or you’re allergic to any of the commonly used DMARDs. Physical therapy and lifestyle modifications can also help you to remain active and mobile as much as possible.

Help is available for rheumatoid arthritis at Brandon Riverview Medical Associates. To schedule an appointment, use the online booking tool or call the office now.