Rheumatoid ArthritisJoints Under Attack
Creaking, achy joints are often considered a sign of age—years of wear and tear breaking down the bone tissue in your body. That isn’t necessarily the case, however. Conditions like rheumatoid arthritis can severely damage and deform joints, causing you pain and restricting your ability to move. Although there are many different ways people develop joint damage, rheumatoid arthritis is actually an autoimmune disease—and it needs early, aggressive care to save your mobility and independence.
About Your Autoimmune Arthritis
As an autoimmune disease, no one is sure what exactly causes rheumatoid arthritis. For some reason, your body’s own immune system mistakenly attacks your joint tissues. This creates inflammation, swelling, and damage. The disease actually attacks the all-important lubricating linings in your joints that allows your limbs to move smoothly, rather than the bone tissue itself. Without treatment, however, the inflammation can spread to the protective cartilage caps and the bones.
Unfortunately, like other autoimmune diseases, there is no cure for this condition. It impacts more women than men, and it’s not limited by old age, either. You can develop it at any time, though it’s most common after the age of 30. While having a family member with the condition does increase your risk for developing it yourself, most people get it randomly without any family history of the problem.
Symptoms and Damage
As your immune system attacks the linings responsible for lubricating your joints, you develop inflammation and pain that can make it hard to use that limb. Normally symptoms begin in smaller joints, like your toes, and affect both sides of your body equally. You may notice your aching joints appear red and swollen, and feel tender for weeks at a time, then seem to improve before flaring up again. Your joints will be particularly stiff in the morning. Many people also struggle with fatigue and even low-grade fevers when symptoms flare up.
As the damage progresses, the inflammation and pain will move to other joints in your feet, hands, arms and legs. You’ll slowly lose mobility from pain and stiffness. The damage can even deform your joints, so you struggle to wear shoes comfortably and use your feet at all. The disease can begin to affect your organs and other non-joint structures in your body over time, too. Your eyes and mouth may dry out. Inflamed blood vessels can lead to skin, nerve, and organ problems. You may be prone to anemia as well.
Controlling the Disease
Even though there isn’t a cure for rheumatoid arthritis, there are plenty of aggressive treatments that can control the disease, limit damage, maintain your joints, and help you keep your mobility. Catching the condition early is the key to living with it. Once your condition has been diagnosed, our Aadvanced Foot Care Associates will help you manage your feet and maintain your mobility as much as possible.
First treatment steps involve eliminating inflammation in your joints as quickly as possible to halt the damage. This will mean medications to control inflammation—though which ones are best for you will depend on the severity of your condition and your body’s unique response to the treatment. At-home methods like applying ice may temporarily ease inflammation and swelling pain as well. Wearing comfortable shoes and possibly orthotics to cushion and support your feet may help discomfort. You may need therapy to learn techniques to maintain range of motion and mobility. Controlled exercise programs can be a big help with this as well. Ultimately, we’ll work with you to make sure all your needs are met.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a serious, chronic condition that can cause debilitating pain and deformities. As it progresses, it can limit your mobility and make life difficult for you. Don’t let your feet reach that point. Treating this disease can help control its progression, alleviate your pain, and maintain range of motion and joint usage.
Let our team at Aadvanced Foot Care Associates help you provide the best possible care for your lower limbs today. Contact our New York office locations for more information through our website. You can also call us directly: (718) 896-4433 for our Rego Park office, (516) 822-9595 for our Plainview location, or (718) 969-2266 for our Flushing office.